Loyola Marymount upsets No. 17 UCLA 69-58

They’re the Loyola Marymount Lions and they sure roared against

No. 17 UCLA.

Ashley Hamilton tied his career high with 23 points and Anthony

Ireland added 21 to help the Lions pull off a 69-58 upset Friday

night in the teams’ season opener, the Bruins’ first game in their

temporary home at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

UCLA was the first ranked opponent the Lions played to begin a

season since the 1989-90 squad played UNLV on its way to an

appearance in the final eight of the NCAA tournament. The Lions had

lost 12 in a row to the Bruins, but they played with no fear.

”I’ve played in big games before,” said Hamilton, who is from

England. ”I played for my national team and we played in big

buildings and big programs before. I just felt like I had to stay

calm and be aggressive.”

Playing not far from their westside campus, with an enrollment

of 8,845, the Lions enjoyed good crowd support, with their fans

chanting ”LMU! LMU!” in the final minutes. They beat the Bruins

for the first time since the 1941-42 season.

”I didn’t feel any pressure at all,” Ireland said. ”As a

matter of fact, since we are a small school, it actually pumped us

up. We feel like we want to be on the same level as them.”

That’s the message Lions coach Max Good had imparted to his

young team going into the game.

”The thing we try to impress on our guys is to compete,

compete, compete,” he said. ”They only outrebounded us by one and

they are obviously much bigger and stronger than we are. We’ve got

some hard-nosed kids and they’ve become hard-nosed.”

Reeves Nelson and David Wear scored 13 points each for the

Bruins, who were in the preseason rankings for the first time since

the 2008-09 season. It will likely be a short stay.

”That was a very disappointing way to start our season off,”

said coach Ben Howland, whose only other loss in an opener during

his UCLA tenure was to Cal State Fullerton in 2009. ”It’s a bad

loss for us. I’ve been saying it, we have a long way to go.”

Big man Josh Smith wasn’t a factor for the Bruins, with five

points and four rebounds in 16 minutes with foul trouble limiting

him, similar to his freshman season. The Lions’ defense targeted

Smith, fronting him in the post and limiting his contact with the

ball.

UCLA guard Lazeric Jones struggled too, with three points, three

assists and three turnovers playing in front of former high school

teammate Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and former UCLA stars

Russell Westbrook and Ryan Hollins, also idled by the NBA

lockout.

”Lazeric was pressing a lot,” Howland said. ”He was trying to

do too much. He’s got to make the simple play.”

The Lions led by one point at halftime and controlled most of

the second half, building their first double-digit lead, 53-42, on

two free throws by Hamilton that capped a 12-0 run.

”They were able to drive us all night. We kept getting beat on

penetration,” Howland said. ”We made a lot of defensive breakdown

mistakes.”

UCLA fans, meanwhile, began leaving the aging building with five

minutes to play and their team down by five. The Bruins never led

in the second half, managing one tie early on. It was the school’s

first loss playing as the home team at the Sports Arena since the

1961-62 season, when John Wooden was coaching the Bruins.

”It’s not what any of us expected,” said David Wear, who was

making his UCLA debut along with his twin brother Travis after

sitting out last season as a result of transferring from North

Carolina. ”We got all the tools and talent on offense. We just got

to be more patient.”

The Lions hit 10 of 15 3-pointers, with Ireland and C.J.

Blackwell making three apiece. UCLA made just 2 of 15 from

long-range.

Hamilton hit consecutive 3-pointers to put the Bruins down by 10

with 3:41 remaining. UCLA was limited to one field goal in the

final 5:47.

The Lions opened on a 26-18 run, hitting four 3-pointers during

the stretch in which they twice led by eight.

The Bruins regrouped to end the half with a 15-6 spurt,

including 10 straight points that left them trailing 34-33. Travis

Wear had seven points in the run.