LOS ANGELES (AP)Cam Shelton scored all of his career-high 31 points after halftime, enough to overcome him mistakenly taking a timeout late in overtime and lead Loyola Marymount past No. 15 Saint Mary’s 78-74 Thursday night.
Loyola Marymount (17-9, 7-5 West Coast Conference) had lost 21 straight to Saint Mary’s and trailed 16-0 less than six minutes into this game.
The Lions led 76-73 with 2.6 seconds left in the extra session before Shelton called a timeout when his team had none left. Alex Ducas made just one of the two technical foul shots, then Loyola Marymount’s Keli Leaupepe hit two free throws with one second remaining to seal it.
”My heart sank for him; he tried to do the right thing,” Loyola Marymount head coach Stan Johnson said of Shelton’s timeout. ”He came back and said, `Coach, I got you. Stay with me. We’re going to get this done.’ That was his mindset the whole way and good things happen when you think that way.”
Shelton scored 24 of the Lions’ final 31 points, including a tying layup with two seconds left in regulation. Alex Merkviladze added 15 points for Loyola Marymount, three weeks after it won at then-No. 6 Gonzaga.
”The game usually takes care of itself and the numbers balance out,” said Shelton, who entered as the WCC’s second-leading scorer at 19.3 points per game. ”If I keep shooting, the numbers say I’m going to make some shots. I was due. Just continue to trust our system and let the game come to me. I didn’t want to force anything.”
Logan Johnson scored a career-high 31 points and Aidan Mahaney had 24 for Saint Mary’s (21-4, 10-1), which had won 12 in a row. The Gaels were coming off a win over then-No. 12 Gonzaga on Saturday.
”You had a 16-0 start and then you’re up five with a minute to go … we didn’t take care of business. We didn’t finish the work,” Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett said. ”We didn’t play well enough. We didn’t defend well enough. You have to keep things in perspective. It counts as one loss and Gonzaga counts as one win.”
Loyola Marymount became the only team in WCC history to defeat Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary’s in the same season.
Shelton converted a three-point play with 20.9 seconds remaining to pull Loyola Marymount within 60-58, and Justin Ahrens made a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to cut the Lions’ deficit to 62-61.
After Shelton’s tying layup, Mahaney just missed a last-second heave from beyond half court at the end of regulation.
Quickly down by 16, the Lions roared back with a 20-4 run to tie it with 6:13 remaining in the first half.
Saint Mary’s led 30-23 at halftime and continued to lead midway through the second half. Loyola Marymount grabbed a 43-42 advantage on a layup by Merkviladze.
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels fell three victories short of matching the best conference start in program history at 13-0 in 2018. After playing at Portland, Saint Mary’s travels to San Diego next Thursday before a game at home against BYU on Feb. 18.
Loyola Marymount: After playing at Santa Clara on Saturday, the Lions host No. 16 Gonzaga next Thursday in a game that will have the Bulldogs’ complete attention. Loyola Marymount ended Gonzaga’s run of 75 consecutive home victories and 93 consecutive victories over unranked teams with a 68-67 victory on Jan. 19.
Saint Mary’s: At Portland on Saturday.
Loyola Marymount: At Santa Clara on Saturday.
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