The Loyola Marymount University basketball seasons ended in Las Vegas last weekend, as the men’s and women’s teams — after showing marked improvement in 2018-19 — were defeated in the West Coast Conference Tournament.
A cold-shooting second half led to the Lions’ 68-65 loss to Pepperdine in the second round March 8. Both teams shot well over 50 percent in the first half that ended with LMU ahead 42-35, but the Waves came back and tallied the last six points, the last three on a basket by Colbey Ross with 31 seconds to play.
Mattias Markusson scored a season-best 19 points to lead LMU, and James Batemon scored 11 for the Lions, whose final record of 20-11 marked only their second season ever in the 20-win category, and the first since their magical 1990 run to the NCAA’s Elite Eight.
The LMU women’s team (18-14) fared a bit better, reaching the quarterfinals after a 66-45 win over San Francisco on March 8, as the Lions pulled out to a 34-25 halftime bulge and kept extending the lead. Jasmine Jones (15 points and 14 rebounds) led the attack along with Bree Alford (13 points, seven rebounds), Cierra Belvin (12 points) and Gabby Green (11 points, six assists).
But a day later the Lions were overwhelmed by St. Mary’s in the quarterfinals, 70-38. The Gaels led by 17 at halftime, holding LMU to 17 percent shooting from the field, and it didn’t get much better in the second half for the Lions who shot only 22 percent for the game.
LMU was also outrebounded 53-26, with no one collecting more than four. Offensively, Jones scored 12 and Green 11.
Despite the loss, senior Andee Velasco from Mater Dei High School offered a positive overview of the season.
"I am proud of my teammates, I am proud of this program and I am proud of everything we have done together,” she said. “Today, it didn't work out for us, but I stand by my girls and I stand by my coach. I am proud of who we are and what we've done.”
Several LMU men’s team members were named to All-WCC Teams announced last week, including James Batemon (first team), Mattias Markusson (Honorable Mention) and Dameane Douglas (All-Freshman).
Batemon, a second team pick last year, is the first Lion on the first team since Anthony Ireland (2012-14), averaging 17 points and 3.6. assists per game while leading the WCC in steals. Markusson averaged 10 points a game and shot 58 percent from the field, and Douglas shot 54 percent while scoring 9.4 points per game.
For the women, sophomore Chelsey Gipson was a first-team All-WCC choice and senior Bree Alford an Honorable Mention selection. Gipson averaged 18.4 points per game in conference play, and led the WCC with a 40.2 three-point percentage, while Alford (also Honorable Mention last season) led the WCC in rebounds with 281.
Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).
Start your day with Always Forward, our award-winning e-newsletter. Get this smart, handpicked selection of the day’s top news, analysis, and opinion, delivered to your inbox. Sign up absolutely free today!