Friday, February 2, 2018

Loyola Marymount 76, BYU 69: Lions stun Cougars behind Batemon's 28 points

Photo Credit: Loyola Marymount Athletics

By: Devin Larkins
Twitter: @Devin_Larkins

LOS ANGELES – In a Thursday night matchup, the Birmingham Young University Cougars (18-5, 7-3 WCC) took on the Loyola Marymount University Lions (6-15, 1-9) in a West Coast Conference game. 

The Cougars appeared to be the clear favorite entering the game. However, the Lions were totally unaware they were the underdogs. They wanted an upset and that is what they did, winning the game 76-69.

BYU began using its star player Yoeli Childs as it fed him the ball in the paint. Coincidentally, on this first play would prove be a microcosm of the game— the Lions making scrappy defensive plays. 

LMU freshman forward Eli Scott made the steal, then on the next possession grabbed a rebound, ran the floor and caught an alley-oop from guard James Batemon. 

"That lob really put Eli in motion. He just needed a little confidence— beautiful pass,” LMU coach Mike Dunlap said.

LMU would continue its pesky defense of BYU’s front court. Swiping away the ball several times early in the game frustrating Childs causing him to yell at the referees for not blowing their whistle. LMU did a great job of mixing up their defensive looks, switching from man-to-man to a 3-2 zone.

Coach Dunlap said “We were trying Bryant and Hawes  and those guys from getting open looks. [We] put as much body on Childs as we could, cause he’s a man.”

LMU's spark would be furthered throughout the first half. Scott creating good space to get a strong slam, while being fouled for the three-point play the old school way. The Lions completed the first half with 14 points.

Attempting the stabilize the game Coach Dave Rose of BYU made a substitution; putting 6’10” Payton Dastrup, who proved to be another big body to help down low in the paint; grabbing two rebounds, blocking shots and making hockey styled assists.

LMU aggressive defense continued in the second half holding the Cougars to just three points in almost four minutes to start the half. 

With LMU’s continued pressure, BYU began to look a little tight. Looking to over execute on back-to-back plays making unusual turnovers for a team who this season averaged on only 12 turnovers per game. Yet, giving the ball away on 16 occasions tonight.

Batemon played very well in the backcourt for the Lions, scoring a game high of 28 points on 3-4 shooting from behind the three-point line. 

Scott would prove to be the real star of the game– earning a tough double-double, contributing 19 points and 10 rebounds. 

“Rebounding wise, you know he did work in there. He got some tough rebounds,” Dunlap said.

Doing things which did not show in the stat sheet. Being a physical force, muscling BYU players around and encouraging his LMU teammates.

The Cougars would make a late second half push to close the gap to five points. Childs made tough layups but the Lions tenacity on defense would not let up. Creating turnover’s every way possible; shot clock violations to offensive fouls. 

Culminating in maybe a season altering let down for BYU. 

What’s Next:

The Cougars get a chance to redeem themselves on Saturday against in tough matchup against No. 14 Gonzaga Bulldogs (20-4, 10-1), while the Lions look to continue their winning streak against the Portland Pilots (9-15, 3-8) on Saturday as well.