Los Angeles, CA (Nov. 10) - For the second consecutive year, the Loyola Marymount men's basketball team had a tough test sitting in front of them to start the season. This time it was Oral Roberts, picked to win the Mid-Continent Conference and ranked among the best among Mid-Majors. The Lions, ranked just two spots behind ORU at No. 16, answered the call again, defeating the Golden Eagles, 68-65, in front of 2,855 at Gersten Pavilion Friday night in a solid collegiate basketball game to start the season.
A year ago the Lions traveled to Provo, Utah, a state they had won one once in 45 trips, and claimed a win in Head Coach Rodney Tention's first year. With higher expectations entering 2006-07, the Lions, facing a tournament team with a two-time conference player of the year, came from seven down to start the year 1-0.
The senior tandem of Brandon Worthy and Matthew Knight were stars as expected, scoring 42 of the Lions 68 points. Knight went for 23 points, nine boards and hit 10-of-14 from the field. Worthy took over down the stretch when the Lions needed him, scoring 19 points with seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
"They are two competitive kids who want to win," said Tention, who improves to 2-0 in season openers as the Lions go to 35-17 in the first game of the year since 1955-56. "Our team knows that when Brandon and Matty are playing well, we are playing well. They are good."
Down by three at the half, the Lions saw their deficit grow to as many as seven when ORU's Marchello Vealy hit a jumper to make it 48-41 with 13:15 remaining. The Lions would go on a 10-2 run over the next four minutes to take a 51-50 lead when Knight hit an easy lay-up after a Worthy steal.
As expected, the two teams traded leads until the Lions went on an 11-2 run to take the lead for good. The run led to a seven-point lead at 64-57 when Worthy hit a driving lay-up and was fouled with 2:47 remaining.
Oral Roberts cut the lead to three, 66-63, on a three-pointer from Moses Ehambe with 24 seconds remaining. Senior Adoyah Miller hit one of two free throws to make it a two possession game and put it just out of reach for the Golden Eagles.
ORU was led by Ken Tutt's 26 points while two-time player of the year in the Mid-Continent Conference Caleb Green had just 12 points but with 12 rebounds.
- From LMU Media Services