Weber State (25-6) at Loyola Marymount (20-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 18, 6:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gersten Pavilion (4,156) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: None. CIT Record: Weber State 1-0, Loyola Marymount 1-1. Series Record: Weber State leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: The second round of the 2012 CollegeInsider.com Tournament continues today when the Weber State Wildcats head to Los Angeles to take on the Loyola Marymount Lions at Gersten Pavilion.
After missing out on the NCAA Tournament by dropping two of its last three games to Big Sky Conference champion Montana, Weber State came into the CIT with the best winning percentage of all participating teams. The Wildcats added to their impressive season with a first-round win over Utah Valley, 72-69, and they are now 25-6 on the campaign -- their best record since going 26-6 in 2002-03. They have been vulnerable on the road, however, going just 7-6 away from Dee Events Center this year.
In defeating Cal State Fullerton (88-79) in the first round, Loyola Marymount advances in the postseason for the first time since its Elite Eight in the 1990 NCAA Tournament. Overall, this has been the Lions' best campaign since that incredible season, as they are now 20-12 overall. LMU also had a great run in the West Coast Conference, collecting impressive wins over Saint Mary's and BYU en route to 11 conference wins -- the third-most in school history.
Weber State has an unblemished mark against LMU in the all-time series, 4-0, although the two teams have not met since the 1977-78 season.
Although Utah Valley made it much closer than anticipated, Weber State was able to hold on for the first-round victory behind yet another stellar performance from Damian Lillard. The Big Sky Conference MVP tallied 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field as he led the Wildcats in scoring for the 25th time in 31 games this season. Lillard is the nation's second-leading scorer (24.4 ppg) and was named a finalist for many postseason awards, including the Bob Cousy Award, recognizing the nation's top point guard, as well as the John Wooden and Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Awards. While Lillard is clearly the catalyst, the Wildcats' potent offense (77.3 ppg) also gets ample production from the likes of Scott Bamforth (14.5 ppg) and Kyle Tresnak (10.1 ppg). WSU's offense has been one of the nation's best this season, ranking fifth nationally in three-pointers per game (9.0), 11th in three-point percentage (.396) and tops in free-throw percentage (.810).
In a game that featured a frantic pace with 135 total shots taken, Loyola Marymount was able to outlast Cal State Fullerton in first-round action. The Lions shot a modest 42.4 percent from the field, but went to the free-throw line an incredible 40 times, knocking down 32 en route to a lofty 88-point scoring effort. Four players reached double figures in scoring, led by Anthony Ireland's 26 points, his ninth 20-plus point outing of the season. Ireland paces the team in scoring (15.8 ppg), assists (4.8 apg) and steals (1.7 spg), which was good enough to land him on the All-WCC First Team. Joining him on the First Team was Drew Viney, who isn't far off Ireland's scoring pace with 15.1 ppg and also shoots an outstanding 45 percent from three-point range. Joining the two stars in double digits for the Lions are Ashley Hamilton (10.9 ppg) and Jarred DuBois (10.1 ppg). On top of having a stellar offense (70.3 ppg), LMU allows 67.1 ppg to its opponents, while holding foes to a league-low 30.6 percent shooting effort from beyond the arc.
This game is sure to be exciting from wire-to-wire as each team possesses ample offensive talent. Though Lillard is likely to have another monster performance, LMU has been great on its home floor and its stellar track record guarding the three-point line will slow down the Wildcats just enough to earn the victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola Marymount 78, Weber State 75
03/18 11:21:31 ET