Loyola Marymount wanted a good run in its home opener Wednesday. Instead, the Lions got a run for their money before beating Westmont College, 100-84, before a crowd of 1,250.
Loyola improved to 2-1 and hit triple figures for the second time, but the Lions never quite forced the pace as they had wanted to do.
Instead, Loyola had to claw its way to a 44-35 halftime lead, and they strung together only one good run midway through the second half.
That was when the Lions put the game away with a 23-9 burst, led by Corey Gaines and Hank Gathers. With Loyola holding a 50-41 lead, the Lions' Enoch Simmons hit a three-pointer, Gaines made a steal, dunked and converted a free throw, then Gathers took over.
The muscular forward scored Loyola's next 13 points, starting with a steal and reverse dunk and ending with an acrobatic layup in traffic. That made the lead 71-50. Jeff Fryer hit a jumper to stretch the lead to 73-50, and when Gaines hit a three-pointer with 7:20 left, Loyola had its biggest lead, 78-54.
Gaines finished with 19 points to lead all scorers and had 9 assists and 8 steals. Gathers scored 15 points. Four other Lions scored in double figures, with Mike Yoest and Fryer getting 13 apiece.
Westmont (2-2) had five players in double figures, led by forward Mike Kelly with 18 points and guard Curt Anders with 17.
Loyola shot 74% after the intermission (20 of 27) and 60% overall, while Westmont hit 62% overall. Two of the deciding factors were Loyola's superior three-point shooting--8 of 12 compared to 2 of 4--and its advantage at the foul line--20 of 29 compared to 14 of 15.
Loyola Coach Paul Westhead said the Warriors "did a good job of controlling the game. Westmont did enough to keep the game logical when we're trying to make it illogical. They just kept their pace, kept their game plan.
"We weren't sharp. We weren't at our best. . . . We didn't get a good rhythm. We'll take the win. We'll work on the rhythm later."