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Somewhere, Hank Gathers Is Smiling

With the hiring of Brian Kelly as Notre Dame's new football coach, there's been a lot of happiness in South Bend over the past couple of days. 

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The Fighting Irish were due for a letdown, and it happened at the Joyce Center this evening. That's where Loyola Marymount handed Mike Brey's Irish basketball team an 87-85 defeat

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You may vaguely remember the name Loyola Marymount. The Lions electrified the college basketball world between 1988 and 1990, when they were involved in five of the ten highest scoring games in NCAA Tournament history.

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In 1990, they made it all the way to the West Regional final, despite the death of star Hank Gathers during that season's West Coast Conference tournament. During this run, Gathers' best friend and teammate, Bo Kimble, memorialized his friend by shooting -- and making -- his first free throw left-handed.

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Since then, Loyola Marymount has only recorded four winning seasons, and the Lions have fallen far behind teams like Gonzaga, St. Mary's and San Diego in the WCC pecking order. Maybe this stunning win over one of the most loved and hated schools in the country will be the start of LMU's resurgence. 

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But if it isn't, maybe it will at least lead college basketball fans everywhere think back to a few stunning weeks in March of 1990, when one of the most inspirational and fun chapters in the sports history sprung from the tragic loss of one of its most promising young stars.