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The LMU men’s basketball team (21-11) advanced to the second round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) with a 56-55 win over California Baptist University (CBU) on Wednesday, Mar. 20. Here are three major takeaways from the game.

3. The Lions stayed calm in the game’s most intense moments.

While LMU had the lead for most of the game, CBU did not quietly. The Lancers went on multiple short runs in the second half, repeatedly cutting the deficit to one possession and even taking the lead briefly in the final minute. However, the Lions were able to hold off CBU because they held tough and didn’t force too many difficult shots on offense. Instead, they stuck to their game plan and made the shots they needed to in order to eke out the win.

2. Clutch play came from an unlikely source.

In close games this season, LMU has consistently turned to perimeter players to take the big shots. On Wednesday however, they switched up their strategy and it paid off in a huge way. Trailing by two with under 40 seconds remaining, the Lions worked the ball to junior center Mattias Markusson in the post. Markusson converted a tough turnaround hook shot and drew a foul, nailing the free throw for lead that LMU would never relinquish.

1. Defense excelled early, then stepped up late.

LMU’s goal in the game was clear: grind out possessions and play a defensive-minded game against a fast-paced, offense-driven CBU team. It was an approach that worked in spectacular fashion in the first half. In what might be their best defensive half of the entire season, the Lions played an aggressive and swarming defense, consistently putting pressure on CBU and never giving the Lancers any easy buckets. The result was a half in which LMU allowed just 21 points on 26.9 percent shooting and forced eight turnovers. While the second half was not as strong defensively, the team still stepped up when necessary — particularly after Markusson’s three-point play. In CBU’s final possession, the Lions avoided making any mistakes on defense, forcing a missed layup and a missed three to hold on for the one-point win.

LMU now heads to the CBI quarterfinals, where they will host the Bears of Brown University on Monday, Mar. 25, at Gersten Pavilion. A tip-off time has not yet been announced.

Alex Hutton is a senior journalism major from Oakland, California. He is a diehard fan of the Warriors, Giants, 49ers, Sharks, Cal Bears and LMU Lions. He lists getting his plays produced and meeting Paul McCartney as among his current life goals.

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