Loyola Marymount 70, Santa Clara 61
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Kenny Hotopp scored eight of his 24 points during a 22-3 run at the start of the second half as eighth-seeded Loyola Marymount upset top-seeded Santa Clara 70-61 Saturday night in the first round of the West Coast Conference tournament.
The Lions are hosting the event for the first time since 1990 when their star forward, Hank Gathers, collapsed during a semifinal game against Portland from a heart arrhythmia and was pronounced dead less than two hours later.
The rest of that tournament was canceled and the Lions were declared champions, going on to the final eight of the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual national champion UNLV.
A brief moment of silence was observed by the crowd of 2,150 at Gersten Pavilion in memory of Gathers about 10 minutes before the Lions and Broncos tipped off.
No host team has won the championship game of the WCC tournament since its inception in 1987.
Hotopp also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. Jim Williamson also scored 24 points for the Lions, who ended a seven-game losing streak.
Lloyd Pierce led Santa Clara (16-11) with 15 points. Reserve Craig Johnson had 12 points and six steals for the Broncos.
The Lions (7-20), who won only three conference games during the regular season and were swept by Santa Clara, gave coach John Olive a fitting 42nd birthday present with an inspired effort that brought back memories of coach Paul Westhead’s run-and-gun team with Gathers and Bo Kimble.
Loyola, which trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, scored the first 16 points after intermission to turn a five-point deficit into a 45-34 lead. Williamson made a pair of 3-pointers during the rally.
Santa Clara drew within three points before Loyola went on a 12-1 to clinch the victory.