Loyola Marymount University overcame a sluggish start to defeat Azusa Pacific, 103-89, Friday night before an opening-night crowd of 800 at Loyola.
The Lions (1-0) trailed, 18-17, early in the game and led, 38-37, with five minutes left in the first half before pulling away to take a 52-43 lead at intermission.
Loyola slowly increased its advantage in the first 10 minutes of the second half, building a lead of 81-61 before Azusa Pacific (1-2) began chipping away with three-pointers. The Cougars closed within 11 several times but got no closer.
Loyola held a 53-45 rebounding edge and outshot Azusa Pacific, 49% to 41%, in the ragged win. Azusa Pacific's advantage was from the three-point line, where the Cougars made 8 of 19 to 5 of 14 for Loyola.
Azusa Pacific guard Danny Scott hit three quick three-pointers down the stretch to keep his team in the game. He finished with a team-high 20 points. Guard Scott DeBrouwer, who hit 5 of 7 three-pointers, added 17.
Azusa Pacific's best frontline players, center Bill DesRochers and forward Alex Adams, added 18 and 16 points but were hardly factors in the second half.
Loyola placed five players in double figures, led by junior forward Mike Yoest's 28 points. Dennis Vogel added 16. Point guard Chris Nikchevich, playing his first game for Loyola after transferring from Brigham Young, had 11 points and 13 assists. Junior forward Mark Armstrong led all rebounders with 15.
"We'll take it," Loyola Coach Paul Westhead said. "Your first game, you just want to play it, win it then go from there. . . . We're a better running team than we showed. I thought we could be a little bit more dominating on the boards--early and late we were kind of flat-footed. We got it going in the middle."
Westhead said Yoest's 28-point, 10-rebound game will come to be thought of as routine. "Yoest is like Southern California sunshine for us--it's becoming an ordinary performance."