Loyola Marymount entertained its best home opponent of this season in front of its best crowd--both in numbers (2,760) and spirit--so the Lions responded with their best game of the season, beating Loyola of Chicago, 99-89, in Gersten Pavilion Monday night.
The game was something of a milestone in several aspects for the host team: It proved the Lions could hang in with a physical team in a physical game; it showed Loyola could beat a good team in a close game; and it showed the Lions could win without scoring 100 points.
The Lions improved to 6-3 without getting their fast break into high gear, and despite shooting a sub-par 45%.
Instead, the Lions held their own on the boards, went inside successfully, forced 20 turnovers and took advantage of greater depth to drop the Ramblers to 5-3.
Hank Gathers led Loyola with 19 points and added 10 rebounds, and Bo Kimble added 17 points off the bench. But it was senior Mike Yoest who was the instrumental figure, hauling down 13 rebounds, scoring 14 points and adding 3 assists and 3 steals.
Seven of the eight Lions who played scored in double figures. Meanwhile four Ramblers starters played at least 34 minutes; three of them fouled out.
Said Rambler Coach Gene Sullivan, who was flattened midway through the second half when Yoest dove through the opponents' bench: "They beat us with their half-court offense. We didn't think they could score that much inside. They got my two guys in foul trouble--that was part of it. They've got two guys--Yoest and Gathers--who are terrific inside. We just don't have anybody off the bench that can guard anybody inside."
The Lions were behind most of the first period but appeared to wear down the Ramblers near halftime, tying them at 39-39 and taking a 47-44 lead at intermission.
In the first half, two Ramblers played all 20 minutes and all the starters played at least 18 minutes. The bench scored two points. Gerald Hayward had 18 points of his 27 points, many of them as the Ramblers built early leads that reached 8 points at 31-23.
For the Lions, meanwhile, Kimble popped in 12 points off the bench and the substitutes accounted for 18 points.
The Lions started the second half with a quick 7-2 burst to build a 54-46 lead and stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the game.
With 5:39 left, Gathers scored and was fouled by Rambler center Kenny Miller, the nation's leading rebounder. Gathers left the game with 14 points and 9 rebounds and the Lions holding a 83-75 lead.
The Ramblers got within five points at 83-78, but moments later forward Nate Brooks fouled out and the Ramblers were wrecked. The Lions rebuilt the lead to 90-78 with 4:11 left.
The Lions were outrebounded, 52-44, but got many of the crucial rebounds, including 19 at the offensive end.