NEW YORK — Loyola Marymount took a step toward respectability Saturday, led by two players on a quest for redemption.
The Lions beat Tennessee Tech, 114-78, and will meet St. John's today at 1 p.m. in the championship game of the 13th Lapchick Memorial Tournament. St. John's, which has never lost a game in its tournament, beat Harvard, 105-60.
Loyola was led by senior guard Corey Gaines and sophomore forward Hank Gathers, transfers from UCLA and USC who were playing their first varsity games since 1985-86.
Gaines had 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting, a tournament-record 13 assists and 4 steals. Gathers started slowly but finished with 22 points, hitting 9 of 16 shots, and taking 6 rebounds.
Loyola senior forward Mike Yoest, who made 8 of 13 shots, had 18 points, 13 rebounds and a dive into press row when the Lions were ahead by 30 points.
The blowout began when Gaines and Yoest heated up midway through the first half and Loyola's press began to bother Tennessee Tech. Loyola took the lead for good, 17-14, on Gaines' three-pointer, and increased the lead after Tech got into foul trouble. The Lions shot 20 free throws to Tech's 8 in the half.
After Yoest scored two baskets inside and Gathers hit a turnaround jumper in the lane, the Lions had a 47-28 lead and Yoest already had 14 points.
The lead was 57-39 at intermission and 88-57 when Gaines scored the last of his points on an 18-foot jumper. The Lions reached 100 points with 5:45 remaining. They shot 69% in the first half and 54% in the game. Five players were in double figures.
Earl Wise was Tech's leading scorer with 21 points.
St. John's was led by senior Shelton Jones, who had 21 points and 9 rebounds, and Jayson Williams, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds in his first college game.
Afterward, Loyola Coach Paul Westhead invited the Redmen to get into a running game today.
"We hope to get into a 100-plus basketball game. Be our guest, see what happens," he said.
St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca said he may resist that temptation. "That fast break I saw today was something I wish my team could do," he said. "That's the best fast break I've ever seen. It resembles the Laker fast break. That is an NCAA (tournament) club, I assure you."