Los Angeles, CA -The LMU Lions battled back from a sluggish first half to defeat the University of San Diego Toreros 67-63 on Saturday afternoon. The Lions (6-12, 2-6 in WCC play) were led by star forward and leading scorer Adom Jacko who tallied 23 emphatic points to power the Lions to a victory.
Jacko is a junior college transfer from Chaffey College and has made an immediate impact on the Lions season. Both of these teams came in struggling on the season as they are both near the bottom of the standings in the conference. It was a battle of evenly matched teams and it lived up to the hype in that regard.
In the first half the Lions came out very sluggish and struggled to get easy shots against a tough Toreros defense. The Toreros initially began the game in a 1-3-1 half court zone defense but laid off that later in the game. The Lions began the first half by only shooting 32% while USD shot around 50% for the half. In the first ten minutes of the game the Lions struggled to stop Duda Sanadze, a senior guard who was the Toreros leading scorer. Sanadze had 9 quick points as the offense flowed through him beautifully.
The Lions deplored a pressing defensive strategy and the Toreros did a nice job of finding the open man and making them pay in the first ten minutes of the ballgame. They had a solid double digit lead with about 5 minutes left. The Lions were staying in the game strictly because of the turnovers that the Toreros were committing, unable to handle the ball pressure. Thus, at halftime the lead they had built was down to 6 and this was a closer game than it should have been in San Diego’s mind.
Heading into the second half it was clear that the Lions dodged a bullet because the lead could have been worse. They decided to speed the game up and play a faster pace to force more turnovers that allowed more transition basketball. The recipient of this faster paced game was Jacko who had countless high-flying dunks that energized the crowd and created momentum for his team. Point guard Brandon Brown pushed the pace while keeping his teammates involved by creating easy opportunities for his teammates. Leading scorer Duda Sanadze who had a great first half was held scoreless in the second half of the game. In crunch time the Toreros folded under the unrelenting ball pressure of the Lions which caused countless turnovers. They totaled 17 by the end of the game to only 5 by Lions. Jacko capped the game off with a punctuating lob and two free throws to end it at 67-63 for a Lions victory.