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WCC TOURNAMENT

Loyola Pulls Off Big Upset

March 02, 1997|ROB FERNAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Loyola Marymount gave Coach John Olive quite a present on his 42nd birthday, rallying from a 16-point, first-half deficit to upset top-seeded Santa Clara, 70-61, in the first round of the West Coast Conference tournament Saturday night at Loyola.

"I've been telling this team all year that they're special," an emotional Olive said after the game. "They never give up."

Loyola, the WCC's last-place team, will play co-champion St. Mary's at 5:30 tonight in one semifinal. In the other, San Francisco meets San Diego at about 7:45.

Center Kenny Hotopp and point guard Jim Williamson each scored 24 points to lead the Lions (7-20), who limited co-champion Santa Clara (16-11) to 33.8% shooting and took the lead for good with a 16-0 run to open the second half.

Loyola ended a seven-game losing streak.

It was the fourth consecutive year that Santa Clara lost in the first round of the tournament, the last three as the top-seeded team. Loyola beat the Broncos in 1995 and Pepperdine upset them last year, both times at Santa Clara.

Santa Clara took a 21-5 lead and was ahead, 25-10, when the Broncos were assessed a technical foul because one of their players, Chris Gomes, was not wearing the jersey number listed in the score book. Loyola responded with a 15-2 run and trailed, 34-29, at halftime.

Five minutes into the second half, the Lions had a 45-34 lead as Hotopp scored eight points and Williamson made two three-point shots during a 16-0 stretch. Hotopp, who made 10 of 14 shots and had 14 rebounds, scored two of his points during the run when a shot that went through the bottom of rim and back through was ruled a basket by officials.

Loyola extended its advantage to 51-37 before Santa Clara rallied to pull within 55-52 on a basket by Lloyd Price with 4:24 left.

That's when Williamson took over. The 5-foot-10 senior hit two free throws and scored on a drive through the lane to make the score 59-52, and his three-point basket with 1:37 left made the score 64-53 with 1:37 left. The three-pointer came after Ben Ammerman stole the ball in the backcourt and made two free throws after he was intentionally fouled by Santa Clara's Craig Johnson.

"Finally we were able to calm ourselves down and get into a groove," Williamson said.

Santa Clara guard Marlon Garnett, the WCC player of the year, made only two of 16 shots and finished with eight points.

St. Mary's 85, Pepperdine 69--Despite a career-best 39 points by center Bryan Hill, the Waves (6-21) never recovered from a poor start.

Hill, a 6-foot-8 junior, made 15 of 24 shots on his way to the most points scored by a Pepperdine player since 1988 and the second-highest total in the tournament's 11-year history. But there was little support from his teammates, who shot a collective 10 of 36.

"I can't fault my teammates," said Hill, who tied a tournament record for field goals in a game. "I had a hot hand, and that kind of magnified the fact that none of my teammates could get it going. But I can't complain. The better team won."

St. Mary's (21-7) held the Waves to 6-of-27 shooting in the first half to build a 39-21 lead and maintained at least an 11-point margin in the second half. The Gaels bring a seven-game winning streak into today's semifinal against Loyola.

The usual suspects--poor shooting, sloppy ballhandling and lack of depth--sent Pepperdine to its fourth consecutive loss.

The Waves went more than 11 minutes without a basket in the first half, they finished with 23 turnovers and they ended the game with only five available scholarship players after Billy Jones was sidelined in the first half because of a back injury and Marc McDowell and Khary Hervey fouled out in the second half.

San Francisco 78, Portland 66--Center Hakeem Ward, a junior transfer from Ventura College, scored a career-best 30 points on 13-for-16 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Dons (15-12) to their fourth consecutive victory and their first in tournament play since 1994.

San Diego 64, Gonzaga 59--Reserve forward Brian Miles scored 19 points, including five of six free throws in the last 10.2 seconds after Gonzaga (15-12) had pulled within 59-57, to help the Toreros (17-10) hold on for their sixth consecutive victory.

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