Sun Devils’ Defense Too Much for Lions

The Loyola Marymount Lions came up short against the Arizona State Sun Devils, losing by a score of 68-44.

ASU was led by sophomore guard Chance Murray, who had 12 points. Jonathan Gilling and Bo Barnes each contributed 11 points, and Shaquielle McKissic tallied 10 points and five rebounds. Although they came away with an impressive victory, Arizona State struggled for much of the first half. They were plagued by dreadful ball-handling skills which led to an atrocious 17 turnovers.

However, it was the lockdown defense in the second half from the Sun Devils that really put a cap on the Lions’ offensive productivity. ASU picked up the pace, holding the Lions to only 28.1% shooting; this was Arizona State’s best defensive output since February 2010. LMU wasn’t able to find an answer for this relentless defensive endeavor from the Sun Devils.

Evan Payne, the heralded reserve for LMU’s backcourt, was limited to only nine points in the game. This is especially surprising after his remarkable outbursts for 23 and 22 points in the first two games of the season for the Lions. In this match up, he shot only 3-for-13.

What’s even worse, though, is that Payne’s nine points led the entire team in scoring. If you combine the amount of points from starters Godwin Okonji, David Humphries, and Chase Flint, you get a resounding total of 13 points. Yes, you read that correctly. 13 points between all three starting players. That’s just brutal.

If the Lions plan on being relevant throughout the season, they’re going to need consistent offensive outputs from their team leaders. If their numbers don’t start to go on the rise, then Loyola Marymount is in for a long, long season, especially with the high amount of improvement that the rest of the West Coast Conference is seeing.

Granted, this is a team with a lot of new faces who are still learning to operate as a whole unit together. I understand I’m being a bit harsh here for a squad that recently lost its superstar point guard (Anthony Ireland) and is currently learning the system under a new head coach. Though Mike Dunlap is a wonderful coaching addition for the Lions, it will take a while for the team to get comfortable in his system. But still, when the opposing team commits 17 turnovers and there’s a 24 points spread, then something needs to be done right away.

I believe that the Lions will become more formidable as the season goes on. A new team and new coach will take time to get used to, and I give Mike Dunlap and LMU’s staff credit for scheduling an opponent as talented as ASU. This game will provide good practice for the Lions as they prepare to take on the rest of the WCC as the conference schedule arrives.