Lions Hoping to Bounce Back Against Portland


After a clobbering in Spokane last Thursday, the Loyola Marymount Lions are looking to bounce back when they travel to Oregon to take on the Portland Pilots.

Feb 12, 2015; Spokane, WA, USA; Loyola Marymount Lions guard Evan Payne (1) puts up a shot against Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Gary Bell, Jr. (5) during the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

LMU didn’t score a single point against Gonzaga until the Bulldogs were holding onto a 20-point lead in the first half, losing by a final score of 80-51. Coming off of a loss as disheartening as this, it’s not going to be easy for the Lions to regain their confidence against a Pilots team that’s coming fresh off a victory against Pepperdine.

But, as cheesy as this may sound, the most important thing that Loyola Marymount can do right now is shake off the bad loss, stay determined and focus on the tasks ahead of them. That’s all you really can do after becoming the newest victim to the #3 team in the nation and their relentlessly vicious student section.

First thing’s first: Evan Payne and Marin Mornar have to get back in control. These two have comprised a vast majority of the Lions’ offensive production throughout conference play. They’re absolutely vital to LMU’s success – just take a look at their outputs in Loyola Marymount’s previous three conference games:

Mornar: 17 points (vs BYU); 27 points, nine rebounds (vs San Diego); 23 points, 11 rebounds (vs Pacific)

Payne: 15 points (vs BYU); 19 points (vs San Deigo); 23 points, seven rebounds (vs Pacific)

Against Gonzaga? Eight and five points each, respectively. Granted it was against a team as skilled as the Zags, but this is exactly what Payne and Mornar, as well as the rest of the squad, are going to have to move on from. It was a poor performance against the best team in the conference. It happens. But LMU can’t allow a Gonzaga hangover to loom over them as the season progresses.

More from West Coast Convo

Meanwhile, Portland is thriving in the West Coast Conference, coming into this game with three consecutive wins over San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Pepperdine. The Pilots are getting contributions from everyone on their squad, with Kevin Bailey and Alec Wintering leading the team in scoring.

Wintering is also dishing out 5.7 assists per game, while senior Thomas van der Mars is grabbing an impressive 8.1 rebounds per game. The Pilots are hot. And they’re hungry to get that conference record back above .500 for a better seed in the WCC Tournament. They’re not going to be an easy team for the Lions to stop, but if Mike Dunlap can get his team back on track, we may have ourselves an entertaining matchup in the West Coast Conference come Saturday.