A visit from Marquette--touted as the biggest name to play in Gersten Pavilion in its five-year existence--brought out perhaps a bit too much hospitality in Loyola Marymount's basketball team Wednesday.
The Lions missed free throws throughout the contest, fell behind, 52-38, midway through the second half and couldn't get off a shot in two possessions when a basket would have tied the game in the final minute.
However, the Warriors knew they had a game on their hands before escaping with a 75-65 victory before a crowd of 2,270.
Loyola (6-4) fought back from its 14-point deficit with a 22-10 spurt in the final 13 minutes and pulled within two points several times in the final minutes.
Vic Lazzaretti and freshman Jeff Fryer led the charge that saw Loyola pull within 62-60 with 2:51 left. The teams traded baskets for two minutes, and when Lazzaretti rebounded a Marquette misfire, the Lions had a chance to tie.
Instead, Lazzaretti was tied up on the baseline by Marquette guard Michael Sims, and the ball was awarded to the Warriors on the alternating possession rule.
Loyola intentionally fouled center Tom Copa, who hit two free throws with 34 seconds left. The Lions never scored again.
First-year Marquette Coach Bob Dukiet, whose St. Peter's teams were among the nation's best defensively, saw his Warriors hold Loyola 29 points below its average and hit the clutch free throws. The Warriors (8-2) were 18 of 20 from the foul line, including 8 straight in the final half-minute.
Loyola made 19 of 31 free throws. Lazzaretti, a transfer from Marquette who played an otherwise solid game with 10 points and 11 rebounds, hit only 4 of 10 free throws.
"Of all days to shoot 4 for 10," Lazzaretti said. "As a team, we did not shoot free throws well. I didn't want to be overzealous, go out there and win the war by myself, but I didn't want to lose."
Loyola was in good position as the second half started. After being down, 34-28, at intermission, the Lions pulled to within 37-34.
And in the first two minutes of the half, David Boone, the Warriors' top player, and center Tony Reeder went to the bench with their fourth fouls. Boone had only two points.
However, it was Marquette that pulled away, outscoring the Lions, 15-4, in the next four minutes as Sims nailed a three-point shot and two breakaway layups, and Tony Smith got six points.
"When we got our lead, we played quick, aggressive defense and it helped us get some quick baskets," Dukiet said. "Then the last nine minutes, we didn't get any quick baskets. Credit Loyola's defense."
Lazzaretti started Loyola's comeback, grabbing two defensive rebounds and converting them into driving layups and a free throw on the other end.
Mark Armstrong, Mike Yoest and Enoch Simmons produced five free throws, and Loyola pulled to within a basket. But the teams traded three-pointers, and Marquette held off the final charge, hitting the free throws that sealed it.
Loyola Coach Paul Westhead said the game "was within reach--we were right there. We just didn't cash in the last 30 seconds."
He pointed out that Loyola normally shoots 74% from the line.
Sims scored 22 points, including four three-pointers. Mike Flory added 20 points, all but four in the first half, and Smith had 16. Yoest had 14 for Loyola.