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Gonzaga Basketball

Loyola Marymount struggles to get anything going without guards James Batemon, Steven Haney

Loyola Marymount was lost without leadership against the West Coast Conference’s top dogs.

In Gonzaga’s 76-46 win over LMU on Thursday, the Lions were without the guidance of their two veteran shooters – guards James Batemon and Steven Haney.

“Our two best players weren’t on the floor, so that makes a big difference,” LMU coach Mike Dunlap said.

Batemon, a junior, and Haney, a senior, were both on the sidelines because of injuries.

Batemon was out with turf toe, which he suffered a couple of weeks ago. He has been playing in games for the Lions with the injured toe, including LMU’s most recent game against Pepperdine on Saturday when he played all but one minute of the Lions victory.

Dunlap said the team decided to give Batemon the night off on Thursday despite having played with injury because “he’s not ready to play.”

Batemon was fifth in the WCC at 16.9 points per game heading into Thursday. He is also fifth in the conference with 123 assists and second on the team with 32 steals.

The Lions were also without Haney, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Saturday’s game against Pepperdine. According to Dunlap, Haney broke a bone in his knee in the final minutes of game.

Batemon and Haney combined for 35 points in 30-plus minutes on the court when Gonzaga beat LMU 85-66 in Los Angeles earlier in the season.

Without LMU’s top guards, Dunlap was forced to rearrange his young players outside of their usual combinations, causing the Lions to fall behind in the first half by as much as 24 points. LMU big man Zafir Williams was switched from the post to work as a small forward, a much quicker position than what the freshman was used to.

“That impacted our ability to pass with the ball a lot,” Dunlap said.

LMU, who entered The Kennel with just two upper classmen, seven freshmen and four sophomores, got more comfortable on the floor in the second half and matched Gonzaga on nearly every shot until the Zags went on another run midway through the half to put the Lions away for good.