Men’s Basketball Unable to Survive LMU Comeback

Men’s Basketball Unable to Survive LMU Comeback

LOS ANGELES – James Batemon playing in his final home game led a furious rally for Loyola Marymount in a matchup with West Coast Conference Tournament seeding implications.

The senior recorded 23 points, including 16 in the second half when the Lions rallied from a 20-point deficit to come away with a 72-70 win over Santa Clara men's basketball on Thursday.

Zafir Williams had 10 points and Petr Herman scored eight for LMU (19-10, 7-8), which shot 52 percent from the floor in the second half and went 30-for-36 from the free-throw line in the game.

Tahj Eaddy posted 28 points and Josip Vrankic added 22 for the Broncos (15-14, 7-8) who had only one field goal in the final 12 minutes of the game and committed 16 turnovers.

Batemon's two free throws with 57 seconds left gave the Lions a 71-70 lead, their first of the contest.

On the ensuing possession, Guglielmo Caruso missed a jumper in the lane for the Broncos who were unable to corral a rebound on either of two shots by Dameane Douglas in the final 13 seconds.

Santa Clara fouled Batemon who went 1-for-2 from the free-throw line with 5 seconds on the clock.

Out of timeouts, Eaddy drove the length of the court and forced up a 3-pointer at the buzzer which was way off the mark.

The Broncos and Lions are now tied with San Diego (18-12, 7-8), which knocked off San Francisco in overtime Thursday, for fifth place in the WCC standings.

The regular season closes out on Saturday with Santa Clara playing at Portland.

A layup by Vrankic with 11:41 remaining gave the Broncos a 63-49 lead, but the Lions scored 12 of the next 13 points, capped by two free throws from Batemon.

Wertz had the only bucket the remainder of the game for Santa Clara. His driving layup with 4:06 left and two free throws increased the lead to 68-61, but the Broncos missed their final four shots from the floor.

The Broncos put together one of their best halves of the season in the opening 20 minutes.

Eaddy produced 20 points (4 of 6 field goals) and Vrankic 15 (4 of 5 field goals) as Santa Clara hit 59 percent from the floor and nailed all 15 free throw attempts.

The Broncos matched their season-best single half scoring total (48) against a team that surrendered only 62 per game.

A 17-point halftime lead grew to 51-31 on a 3-pointer from Eaddy 1 minute into the second half, but Santa Clara only hit six field goals the remainder of the game as the Lions turned up the defensive pressure, forcing nine turnovers.

Caruso and Trey Wertz both fouled out while Vrankic, Eaddy and Keshawn Justice ended the game with four fouls.

Santa Clara was whistled for 29 fouls, second most this season (31 vs. Minnesota, Nov. 20).

The Broncos went 21-for-22 from the free-throw line.

Batemon, along with fellow seniors, Herman and McClendon, were recognized before the game.

• In a series that began in 1937, Santa Clara holds a 91-62 lead. The Lions swept the season series. The Broncos had won four of the previous five meetings at LMU.
Josh Martin (illness) missed the game and Justice replaced him in the starting lineup. Max Dorward was pressed into action and played nine minutes. The freshman had seen 20 minutes of action in nine games this season.
• Eaddy's 20 first-half points were the third most in any half this season for a Bronco. He had 24 in the second half vs. Pepperdine (Jan. 10) and 21 in opening half vs. San Diego (Jan. 3).
• Wertz who has scored in double figures in 10 of the last 12 games, but was held to seven points.
• The Broncos dropped to 9-3 this season when they score at least 70 points.
• Santa Clara connected on a season-best 95.5 percent from the free-throw line (21 of 22), the third-best single-game mark in school history, trailing only the 100 percent effort vs. San Francisco (Feb. 16, 2000) and 96.0 vs. Portland (Feb. 4, 1989).

The Broncos close out the regular season on Saturday at Portland. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in Chiles Center.

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