GAME NOTES: The Loyola Marymount Lions will attempt to end a four-game losing streak as they prepare to host the Portland Pilots in West Coast Conference action at Gersten Pavilion.
Portland sports a sub-par 2-3 record in WCC play, but is coming off a huge victory against No. 22-ranked Gonzaga, 82-73. Still, including the win, the Pilots have only won two of their last five games.
Loyola Marymount had won four in a row prior to embarking on the four-game losing skid. All four losses have been on the road and, more importantly, all four have been in WCC play. The Lions are coming off a 91-68 blowout loss to BYU.
Loyola Marymount holds a slim 46-43 lead in the all-time series with Portland. The Lions are 25-14 against Portland in Los Angeles.
Portland's win over Gonzaga ended a 20-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. The Pilots led from the opening tip to the final buzzer, at one time leading by as many as 17 points. Bryce Pressley led all Portland scorers with 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor, and chipped in a perfect 4-of-4 from the free- throw line. He dished out a team-best nine assists as well. Alec Wintering netted 14 points, while Kevin Bailey contributed 13. The Pilots shot a hefty 51.9 percent from the floor in the win, including 57.1 percent from 3-point range.
Bailey leads Portland in scoring with 16.8 ppg on 44.7 percent shooting from the field. His 2.9 rpg, 36 assists, 18 blocks and 15 steals make his an all- around versatile player. Thomas van der Mars is second on the team with 12.8 ppg, while Ryan Nicholas is right behind at 12.7 ppg. Nicholas sports 9.3 rpg for the Pilots, who average 78.5 ppg this season.
Not much seemed to be going right for Loyola Marymount in the loss to BYU. A late scoring drought helped the Cougars jump far ahead to take the easy victory. Anthony Ireland led the team with 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting in the loss. He added six assists but turned the ball over five times in the contest. C.J. Blackwell netted 15 points and grabbed four rebounds for the Lions, who shot 48.2 percent from the floor. BYU hit on 63 percent of its shots in the second half to down Loyola Marymount.
Ireland paces the team this season in scoring with 18.9 ppg on 42.9 percent shooting from the floor. He also leads the squad with 98 assists and 30 steals. Evan Payne is second in scoring at 14.1 ppg, and Gabe Levin is third with a 10.9 ppg average. Levin is the team's leading rebounder at 7.6 rpg. The Lions as a unit score 77.1 ppg, but are allowing their opponents to slightly outscore them at 77.3 ppg.
The win over Gonzaga is a huge confidence boost for the Pilots, who hit the road for the first time in five games. The road culture might be a bit of a shock, but they'll figure it out quickly.
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