GAME NOTES: The Loyola Marymount Lions hope to end their 10-game losing streak as they host the San Francisco Dons at Gersten Pavilion for West Coast Conference action.
Rex Walters's Dons come in on a two-game losing streak of their own after suffering a 71-61 setback to Gonzaga on Saturday. The loss to the Bulldogs dropped USF to an 11-15 overall record, which includes its 4-9 mark in WCC action. Cole Dickerson led the team with 15 points and five rebounds against the Zags. On the season, Dickerson is just below a double-double average with 14.6 points and 9.6 boards per tilt.
Max Good's Lions have not experienced a triumph since downing Santa Clara on Jan. 10. LMU has been defeated in 10 straight games since with the most recent being a 61-50 setback to Saint Mary's at home. The streak of losses has lowered the Lions to an 8-18 overall record. The Lions' poor campaign has come despite a terrific season by Anthony Ireland, who is posting 20.4 points and 3.7 assists per game.
The Dons hold a 106-38 all-time series lead versus the Lions coming into Thursday. San Francisco fended off LMU to collect a 62-53 victory at War Memorial Gymnasium on Jan. 19. Dickerson tallied 18 points in the first matchup for USF while Ireland netted 13 points to pace LMU.
USF trailed by just one point with 7:10 left to play before the Zags used a 10-0 run to take control of the bout. Cody Doolin added 14 points for the Dons, who were outrebounded, 45-29 in the contest. San Francisco limited a very accurate 3-point shooting Bulldogs unit to just 3-of-16 efficiency from beyond the arc, but it was outscored, 38-26, in the paint. Doolin is the team's second leading scorer with 12.4 ppg and he also distributes 5.8 assists per outing while De'End Parker chimes in with 12.3 ppg. USF has the fifth highest scoring offense in the nine-team WCC with 70.0 ppg, but it is tied with LMU for the worst scoring defense with 70.2 points allowed per outing.
The Lions are very one dimensional offensively of late. Ireland has poured in 75 of the team's 155 points over the past three games. The team has shot just 40.1 percent from the floor to average just under 52 ppg during that span. LMU is just below the WCC's median in scoring offense with 66.3 ppg, but it is allowing the opposition to connect on 44.3 percent of its field goal tries. Ireland is the second leading scorer in the league, but he does have some help in Ashley Hamilton (13.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Ayodeji Egbeyemi (10.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg).
LMU has continued to battle despite its fruitless results each time out over the past 10 games. This is a winnable game for the Lions, but they will need Ireland to get his teammates involved enough offensively and a solid defensive gameplan to slow down Dickerson.
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