For a dry run, Loyola Marymount's basketball team had a g'day against the touring Illawarra Hawks of Australia, running up a 107-78 victory on Saturday night in Gersten Pavilion.
As Loyola heads into the regular season, Lions Coach Paul Westhead was able to nit-pick light-heartedly, and Illawarra Coach Dave Lindstrom pointed out that this was his 11th game in two weeks and two of his starters were out.
Still, it was an encouraging start for the Lions, who had six players in double figures, shot 55% from the field, showed off a confusing pressure defense and ran away from a team that has beaten three Pacific-10 foes.
Loyola sprung a full-court defense in the first half and pulled away to a 57-36 lead at intermission. The Hawks never got closer than 15 in the second half.
For the Lions, sophomore Hank Gathers had 22 points and 9 rebounds, senior Mike Yoest had 19 points and 12 rebounds, guard Corey Gaines had 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting plus 10 assists, senior mark Armstrong had 13 points, sophomore Jeff Fryer had 11 points including four three-pointers and junior Enoch Simmons had 12 points off the bench. Freshman Marcus Slater added 8 points.
Lindstrom, whose team has won 7 of 11 games on the West Coast, said the Lions "play an exciting brand of ball to watch. I think they'd compete with the teams we've played. If you get into a running game with 'em, you're playing right into their hands."
Westhead called the showing "pretty good, for a first outing." He was generally pleased with the team's fast break, new defenses and Gaines' play as the team's new point guard.
And, he added, "The real plus is I think we can get a heck of a lot better."
Loyola's new pressure defense led to a series of Illawarra turnovers midway through the first half, and Loyola rapidly built a lead that reached 57-36 by half time.
Yoest scored all 11 of his first-half points in the first 9:33 to start Loyola's scoring spurt. Gaines and Gathers then kicked into gear, and Fryer hit two straight 3-pointers.
When Gaines went coast-to-coast for a layup the Lions had a 42-27 lead with five minutes left in the half.
Gaines had 12 points, Yoest 11, Gathers 10 and Fryer 9 at half time.
Loyola's leads reached 29 in the second half, as Gaines and Yoest at one point were a combined 12-for-12 from the floor.
Gathers then went on another scoring spree, getting 12 points in a short span and the Lions put the game away in a flurry of steals and dunks.
"There could be a few teams in this country that can run with 'em," Lindstrom said, "but I'd like to watch that game."
Leading scorer for the Hawks was former St. John Bosco High School star Steve Carfino, who had 22 points include three 3-pointers.