Two terrific efforts against the West Coast Conference’s top two teams both fell shy last weekend, as the Loyola Marymount University men’s basketball team (17-10, 5-8 WCC) dropped home games to league leader Gonzaga and runner-up BYU.

Against No. 3 Gonzaga on Feb. 14, the Lions — in front of a sellout crowd of 4,213 fans at Gersten Pavilion — stayed close for 35 minutes before the Bulldogs (24-2, 11-0) ended the game on a 13-2 run to win 73-60.

“We beat them in the paint and we pounded them on second chance points," said LMU coach Mike Dunlap. “So far nobody in our league's been able to play them the way we've played them. It's another step for our team to build on.”

In the first half, tough defense and Mattias Markusson’s 11 points kept LMU close going into locker room, down 32-31. After falling behind by seven, Eli Scott (11 points, 5 assists) and Dameane Douglas (13 points) led a comeback that put LMU ahead 54-53, and the teams traded baskets until Gonzaga’s late spurt settled the outcome.

James Batemon had 11 points and four assists, and Petr Herman added 10 points and five assists for the Lions, who committed just five turnovers but shot just 38 percent.

Against BYU on Feb. 16, LMU led for more than 33 minutes, but another late scoring drought allowed the Cougars to come from behind and win 70-62.

Batemon had 16 points, Joe Quintana 14 and Markusson 10 to lead the Lions, who led 36-32 at intermission. The lead became 54-45 midway through the second half, before BYU’s 14-0 run into the final minute of play decided the outcome, as LMU went nearly seven minutes without scoring.

The Lions’ only game this week is a Feb. 23 afternoon affair in Stockton against Pacific. LMU then hosts Santa Clara Feb. 28 and is at San Francisco March 2 to conclude regular season play before the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas.

Women’s basketball

The LMU women’s team’s four-game winning streak came to a sudden halt Feb. 15 against PCH neighbor Pepperdine, as the Waves beat the Lions 73-55 at Gersten Pavilion.

Pepperdine led 18-11 after one quarter, 37-20 at the half, and by 24 early in the third quarter before LMU rallied to within 14, but could get no closer. Jasmine Jones led LMU with 23 points, Chelsey Gipson scored 12 and Andee Velasco had eight assists, but the Lions shot just 38 percent for the night and made just one of 14 three-point attempts.

This week the Lions (15-10, 8-6 WCC) host St. Mary’s (Feb. 21) and Pacific (Feb. 23) at Gersten Pavilion. Saturday is Senior Day, when Andee and Bianca Velasco, Gabby Green, Bree Alford and Josie Buckingham will be honored.

LMU’s regular season concludes the following weekend with games at Portland and Gonzaga, followed by the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas.

Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).

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