Loyola Marymount is difficult to get to from Long Beach, Calif. I should rephrase that. If you're a tourist from the Midwest who has to rely on the miracle of public transportation to get around, Loyola Marymount is difficult to get to from Long Beach. The excursion requires a nearly three-hour each way commitment, three transportation agencies and a self-reminder every ten minutes or so that it's worth it for Our Game. Having learned earlier in the day that I was the winner of a national NCAA contest, I figured I best take my newfound selection committee duties seriously and go see some games. At least, that's how I justified it. Two hours and 50 minutes after I left my hotel in Long Beach, I disembarked from the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus No. 3 a bit frazzled. Using the mighty power of iPhone navigation, I managed to successfully reach the Gersten Pavilion. By the time I arrived at the box office, I was praying for something to make it all worthwhile.
As I've stated in previous recaps, I'm a bit of a seat-location princess. I want to sit as close to center court as possible, regardless of distance from the playing surface. In my mind, sitting close is fun, but it's not worth anything if the line of sight is poor. As a result, I generally walk up to a ticket window and ask for a seat as close to center court as possible, even if it's in the rafters. Thinking of it in 2-D mathematical terms (just go with it), it's the X-axis that's critical. If the Y-axis has me close to the floor it's just the cherry on top. I approached the ticket window like a boss and made my usual request to a lovely young lady who appeared to be disinterested in my typically pitiful attempts at wit and charm.
"Do you want a chairback?"
"If it's close to center court, sure. I just want to be as --"
"Twenty dollars." She cut me off.
Oooookay. I paid with a smile and a thank you and shuffled off to explore the campus. For those who haven't been, it's utterly gorgeous, even for California. I knew I had stumbled onto something wonderful when I turned a corner near a residential building and was greeted by a stunning vista overlooking the city of Los Angeles. At LMU, views such as that are par for the course.
The more I walked, the more I realized how out of place I was. A Midwestern boy in a Social Distortion T-shirt and non-matching brown shorts stuck out like a sore thumb among the Hills girls and surfer dudes. I got dinner at Jamba Juice and watched the sun go down in front of one of the myriad campus fountains/reflecting pools. As the sun began to set, the temperature dropped, and I made my way back to Gersten and the warmth inside.
Entering the Pavilion rather early, I looked at my ticket for the first time. Row C? I asked for X-axis, not Y-axis. Section 103? Well, that is the center section. Seat 8? Really!? The young lady at the ticket office had not only given me what I asked, she had given me EXACTLY what I asked. My legs were straddling the imaginary center line running up through the stands, and I was in the second row from the court. (Row A is press row at LMU.) Close AND center. These were donor seats. I don't know if LMU normally sells donor seats at the walk-up window before the game, but even if it does, I sure felt special. Pamphlets in the cup holder invited me to the upcoming men's basketball golf outing. Where moments before I had felt awkward and out of place, I now felt like the king of the basketball world.
Despite my seat location bliss, I had some concerns about the quality of game that I had traveled such a distance to see, as LMU was expected to drop the atomic elbow on the visiting Toreros of San Diego. Surprisingly, the game was close throughout, and the Toreros perimeter defense was equaled only by their 3-point prowess. Senior Darian Norris came off the bench and added four critical superhoops, including the game-winning score with 1:17 left. I had come for Loyola Marymount and the names I knew such as Ireland, Viney, and Hamilton. I stayed for a surprising win from a faceless San Diego team. The Lions slunk back to the locker room while the Toreros celebrated as if they had just punched a ticket to the Final Four. I filed out of Gersten Pavilion and made my way back to the bus stop, ready for the long commute home.
Even as I collapsed into my hotel bed that night, I felt satisfied with my choice to go to the game. Five-and-a-half hours and $20 may be steep for some, but it's a small price to pay to satisfy a college hoops craving.
SAN DIEGO 60, at LOYOLA MARYMOUNT 57 02/23/2012
SAN DIEGO 12-16 (7-8) -- C. Anderson 5-10 0-0 12; D. Kramer 5-10 0-0 11; K. Rancifer 3-8 1-1 7; D. Norris 4-7 0-0 12; J. Dee 1-6 2-2 4; C. Miles 0-1 0-0 0; S. Fajemisin 1-1 4-5 6; J. Sinis 2-3 0-0 4; C. Manresa 1-4 2-3 4. Totals 22-50 9-11 60. LOYOLA MARYMOUNT 18-11 (10-5) -- A. Ireland 7-15 0-2 14; D. Viney 2-7 0-0 5; J. DuBois 4-11 0-0 9; G. Okonji 0-1 1-4 1; A. Hamilton 4-6 6-7 15; C. Blackwell 2-8 0-0 4; L. Armstead 1-1 0-0 3; A. Egbeyemi 1-2 0-0 2; A. Osborne 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 23-54 7-13 57.
Three-point goals: USD 7-15 (D. Norris 4-5; K. Rancifer 0-2; D. Kramer 1-3; C. Anderson 2-3; J. Dee 0-1; J. Sinis 0-1), LMU 4-17 (D. Viney 1-3; L. Armstead 1-1; J. DuBois 1-5; A. Hamilton 1-1; A. Ireland 0-4; A. Egbeyemi 0-1; C. Blackwell 0-2); Rebounds: USD 33 (K. Rancifer 7), LMU 27 (G. Okonji 7); Assists: USD 11 (C. Anderson 5), LMU 9 (A. Ireland 5); Total Fouls -- USD 14, LMU 15; Fouled Out: USD-None; LMU-None.