Loyola Marymount, led by the return of Jeff Fryer and the re-emergence of Mike Yoest, ended a seven-game losing streak Friday night, beating the University of San Francisco, 97-78, before a crowd of 2,466 at Gersten Pavilion.
The victory pulled the last-place Lions (11-14 overall, 3-9 in the West Coast Athletic Conference) within a game of USF in the conference standings and ended the Lions' eight-game WCAC losing streak.
Fryer, who last played in Loyola's last victory Jan. 20, scored 10 points in 15 minutes, including two three-pointers, and Yoest scored 27 points--his best game in more than a month. Yoest, a junior forward, hit 10 of 11 attempts from the field and 7 of 8 from the free-thow line. He also had a game-high 10 rebounds.
Loyola guard Enoch Simmons added 19 points.
Loyola trailed for much of the fast-paced first half, but turned the game around when it scored seven points in 47 seconds.
USF (14-11, 4-8), which is 0-6 in WCAC road games, built early leads that reached 33-27, but a Loyola press and reserve guard Dennis Vogel ignited the Loyola break. Vogel tied the game at 39-39 on a breakaway layup with 1:30 left.
Twenty seconds later, he hit a three-point shot from the corner. Shortly after that, Mark Armstrong, who had nine points and nine rebounds, finished a fast break with a driving reverse layup for a 44-39 halftime lead.
The Lions scored the first five points of the second half, withstood a USF run that saw the Dons pull to within 53-50, then went on a 29-12 spree that buried the Dons. The Lions, who had been shooting less than 43% in conference games, hit 35 of 72 shots (48.6%) including 8 of 19 three-pointers. They added 19 of 27 at the foul line.
Loyola Coach Paul Westhead, who celebrates his 48th birthday today and leads the Lions against Santa Clara, credited Loyola's intensity at the end of the first half for the turnaround.
"We played some switching defenses that kind of ignited our offense," he said. "When we run we shoot better." He said Yoest "was very stable, he didn't do anything beyond his ability level. When he plays bread and butter basketball, he's going to be very effective. . . . Tonight, he let the flow of the game come to him.
"When you come off a losing streak, a win is the cure-all," Westhead said. "If we can get three in a row we'll be that much more dangerous (going into the WCAC tournament). Right now, we're happy with one."