Nov. 22, 2008
LOS ANGELES (AP)–Corey Counts had just made his second straight long 3-pointer, and suddenly, No. 8 Notre Dame’s lead over unheralded Loyola Marymount had shrunk to three points with seven minutes to go.
The Fighting Irish turned to old reliables Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson, and order was quickly restored.
Harangody and Jackson combined for 12 of Notre Dame’s 15 points down the stretch, and the Irish (2-0) pulled away in the closing moments for a 65-54 victory over the winless Lions on Friday night.
Harangody, the reigning Big East Player of the Year, had 27 points and 17 rebounds, and Jackson added 16 points and seven rebounds.
“Those two guys were men when we needed men,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We were fortunate to win the game. When you play on the road, you’re happy to get it. I never thought it was going to be easy here. You knew you were going to have game pressure.” Harangody said he expected a close game as well, and pointed to poise in the late going as the key.
“You can’t get flustered. We didn’t,” he said. “We came down and ran our offense and got to the free-throw line. This was good for us, to have a test like this. Notre Dame comes in anywhere, I think anybody’s going to be excited to play us.” Freshman Jarred DuBois led Loyola Marymount (0-4) with 16 points, and fellow freshman Ashley Hamilton added 10 before fouling out with 48.3 seconds to play. Kevin Young had 10 rebounds for the Lions.
First-year Loyola coach Bill Bayno missed the game because of an illness that had caused him to miss practice Wednesday and Thursday. Bayno became ill after the Lions returned home from Iowa State, where they played their first three games last weekend in the World Vision Classic.
Assistant Max Good filled in.
“(Bayno) called me today and said, `Be yourself,’ and I thought since this is a Jesuit school, I might not be here for more than 24 hours if I be myself with my foul language,” Good said. “We really competed. They have like 195 combined starts and we have like 34 because we’re playing so many freshmen. And we have to. If you’re in a better program you don’t have that, but we have to play freshmen and some of our freshmen made huge strides.”
Vernon Teel, who led Loyola in scoring and rebounding in each of its first three games, was limited to six minutes because of an injured right foot. When the Lions came out for the second half, he was on crutches with an ice pack on his foot. He had four points and two rebounds.
A three-point play by Harangody and a basket by Jackson gave the Irish a 41-33 lead early in the second half–largest of the game to that stage.
A basket by Harangody with 8:37 remaining gave the Irish their first double-figure lead, and was their first field goal in 9 1/2 minutes. The Lions battled back, with Counts making two 3-pointers during an 8-1 run that trimmed Notre Dame’s lead to 50-47. That’s when Notre Dame used its superior size and strength to take command. “They were able to score and get to the line,” DuBois said. “They had more intensity and they were just the better team tonight.”
Regarding Harangody, DuBois said: “He’s a great player. He’s not selfish at all. If he’s got the ball 1-on-1, three things are going to happen two points, two free throws or three points on the kick out because he’s unselfish.” The Irish shot 40.4 percent and outrebounded the Lions 44-35. They made just 19-of-32 from the foul line, where Loyola went 6-of-8.
The Lions’ strategy was obvious from the start–shorten the game by running the shot clock down and play good defense. It worked quite well for the first 33 minutes. Teel didn’t start after being kicked out of a practice this week. He entered with 14:10 left in the first half and the Irish leading 14-9, and got a basket and set up DuBois for a 3-pointer in his first two minutes. But he was injured not long after coming in and ultimately couldn’t go on.
Two 3-pointers by Luke Zeller helped the Irish take a six-point lead, but the Lions battled back and a 3-pointer by DuBois tied it at 26 with 5 1/2 minutes to play in the half.
A 3-pointer by Ryan Ayers and two baskets by Harangody helped the Irish outscore the Lions 10-4 for a 36-30 halftime lead, and they were on top the rest of the way. The game was played before a record Gersten Pavilion crowd of 4,534 and was the first Loyola home opener played before a sellout crowd, and it was just the third non-conference home sellout in school history, joining games against UC Santa Barbara and Oklahoma that sold out in December 1989.
Loyola lost its 30th straight game to a ranked opponent since beating No. 23 Alabama in the third round of the 1990 NCAA tournament.
A moment of silence was observed before the game in memory of Hall of Fame coach Pete Newell, who died Monday at age 93. Newell graduated from Loyola in 1940.