Los Angeles, CA - Loyola Marymount senior Brandon Worthy hit an off-balanced three-pointer with 0.9 seconds remaining to lift the Lions to a 71-69 come-from-behind win over New Mexico State in front of 3,570 at Gersten Pavilion Friday night. Worthy led the Lions with 28 points as the Lions erased a 17-point second half deficit for the win.
The performance by Worthy could be summed up like this - after putting up a career-high 28 points with eighth rebounds, two assists and two steals in 37 minutes while both calves where cramping - a young boy clad in New Mexico State gear asked the fifth-year senior for an autograph telling him he had a new fan.
"Brandon is flat-out a warrior who wants nothing else but wins. He wants the ball at the end of the game and his teammates know to get it to him," said Head Coach Rodney Tention.
New Mexico State had one more shot at the win but Worthy blocked Justin Hawkins three-pointer at the buzzer. A fitting close to the game Worthy played.
The Lions improve to 2-1 on the season while New Mexico State falls to 1-1 following a physical contest that looked to be a runaway for the Aggies. The teams were called for 55 fouls as Tention was called for his second technical and ejected from the game with 8:17 left. New Mexico State built a 15-lead at the break and went up 17 15:54 remaining as the Lions struggled to get anything going.
However, down 60-45 after an Elijah Ingram three-pointer with 11:17 remaining, the Lions put the clamps on the Aggies' offense, and LMU took over. The Lions cut the lead to 10, 63-53 with 8:47 remaining when Worthy hit a free throw. Worthy finished 11-for-16 from the line. Less than 30 seconds later Tention was called for his second technical and it seemed to only put the Lions into another gear.
Ingram hit one of the two technical free throws to go up 64-53. The Lions then rattled off a 15-0 run over the next five minutes to take a 68-64 lead, their first since leading 9-7 in the first half. Senior Derick Grubb started the run with a dunk, followed by a lay-in by senior Matthew Knight with 6:51 remaining.
At this point both Grubb and Knight were playing with four fouls. Knight, Worthy and Grubb then each added a free throw to make it 64-60 Aggies with 5:11 remaining. Worthy hit a jumper to put LMU within two. Grubb then hit a 10-foot jumper and then a three-pointer with 3:18 remaining to give LMU the lead. Worthy added a free thrown to close the run.
The Aggies would get their first field goal, a dunk by David Fisher, in over 11 minutes to retake the lead at 69-68 with 14 seconds remaining to set-up the final series for Worthy.
"What an overall team effort," said Tention. "We wanted to come out and compete until the end. We didn't play to our capability in our last game (against Mississippi State) and knew we were a better team. In the second half our guys really got after it. This was a good win against a quality opponent."
Knight finished the game with 13 points, all coming in the final 15 minutes of the game. Grubb added 14 while freshman Max Craig added eight points off the bench. The Lions finished the game shooting 46 percent, hitting 58.3 percent in the second half. LMU forced NMSU into 26 turnovers on seven steals while holding them to just 28 percent shooting in the second half and 38 percent for the game.
"Our defense has to be consistent for us to be competitive. We did a great job in holding a good shooting team to 38 percent shooting," said Tention.
- from LMU -