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Loyola Marymount stuns UCLA in opener

Lions have more sense of purpose than 17th-ranked Bruins in 69-58 upset at the Sports Arena.

November 11, 2011|By Ben Bolch
  • Loyola forward Ashley Hamilton drives to the basket against UCLA forward Reeves Nelson in the first half Friday night at the Sports Arena.
Loyola forward Ashley Hamilton drives to the basket against UCLA forward… (Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire )

Loyola Marymount Coach Max Good recently joked that he had asked UCLA counterpart Ben Howland to send a second-level team to the opener to make it a fair fight.

It appeared as if Howland did.

The 17th-ranked Bruins seemed completely out of sorts during a 69-58 loss Friday night at the Sports Arena, their inside-out approach appearing more upside-down throughout a game in which they didn't have a coherent plan on offense and were equally bad on defense.

The Lions repeatedly beat UCLA off the dribble and played with more confidence and a greater sense of purpose throughout their first victory over the Bruins since 1941.

It was not the kind of debut UCLA was seeking in its season-long home while Pauley Pavilion undergoes renovations.

"The locker room reaction isn't really angry, but maybe stunned," UCLA sophomore forward Travis Wear said. "Anyone on our schedule can beat us if we don't play 100%."

UCLA junior forward Reeves Nelson was out of rhythm for long stretches and sophomore center Joshua Smith finished with five points and four rebounds in 16 utterly forgettable minutes.

But no Bruin struggled as mightily as senior point guard Lazeric Jones, who made only one of 11 shots and had three turnovers, equaling his assist total. Jones also failed to contain Loyola Marymount's Anthony Ireland, his quicker counterpart, who repeatedly made uncontested forays to the basket on the way to 21 points.

"I didn't feel any pressure at all," Ireland said. "As a matter of fact, since we are a small school, it actually pumped us up."

It might have been just the opposite for Jones, who was trying to impress former high school teammate Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls star who was in the crowd along with former UCLA standout point guards Russell Westbrook and Darren Collison.

The Lions used a 12-0 run to take control, and Bruins fans started leaving when Ashley Hamilton's three-pointer gave Loyola Marymount a 65-55 lead with 3 minutes 40 seconds left. Hamilton tied a career high with 23 points on eight-for-15 shooting, making two of his team's 10 three-pointers.

The Lions made history of sorts, ending UCLA's 36-game winning streak as the home team in the Sports Arena. Of course, it didn't mean all that much given that the Bruins hadn't logged a victory there since 1965.

The game had a subdued feeling from the opening tip. The crowd of 5,382 filled about half of the two lower bowls, and only a sprinkling of fans sat in the upper bowl. The student section appeared to be a few hundred strong.

Nelson, fresh off his appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, scored 13 points but was a non-factor in the first half and badly missed all three three-pointers he took. The Bruins also failed to consistently get the ball to Smith, whose two early fouls limited him to six minutes in the first half.

UCLA was playing without backup point guard Jerime Anderson, who was completing his two-game suspension in connection with the theft of a laptop computer. The Bruins made two of 15 three-pointers.

The media's preseason pick to win the Pac-12 Conference might have trouble finishing in the upper half of the West Coast Conference if this was any indication.

"It's definitely not how we wanted to start the season off," said small forward David Wear, who had 13 points in his UCLA debut, "but it is the first game and it's a long season. We're going to get back to practice and do whatever we can to get better."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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