Jan. 12, 2007
Baltimore, Md. - Junior guard Gerald Brown hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 20 seconds remaining in overtime to give Loyola the lead and a short attempt from Niagara's Clif Brown missed and the rebound fell harmlessly as time expired as the Greyhounds held on for a 96-95 overtime conference victory over the Purple Eagles Friday night at Reitz Arena.
The win was the fifth straight in MAAC play for Loyola and put them back in a first-place tie with Siena at 5-1. The Greyhounds also possess a 9-6 overall record. Niagara fell to 8-9 overall and 3-3 in conference play.
After Niagara's Tyrone Lewis broke the 10th tie of the game with a three-pointer with 2:29 left in the overtime, Brown's short jumper brought Loyola within one at 92-91 with 1:56 left. Junior forward Omari Isreal found senior forward Josko Alujevic underneath the basket with 1:05 remaining to give the Greyhounds the lead at 93-92, but Lewis hit his second three-pointer of the extra session to give back the lead to the Purple Eagles, 95-93. Following a Niagara time out, Alujevic missed a jumper with 33 ticks left and the rebound went off Niagara and back to Loyola, setting up Brown's final shot.
"This was a good team effort tonight," Greyhounds third-year head coach Jimmy Patsos beamed following the contest. "It was tough coming off the overtime effort [a win Tuesday night at Siena], but we sent the message tonight that we are not going to give up. We had five guys in double figures and that's how you win championships."
Loyola had to withstand a 14-2 Niagara run midway through the second half that gave the Purple Eagles an eight-point lead at 75-67 with 7:18 remaining. A conventional three-point play from Brown with 4:13 left brought Loyola within one at 79-78 and then Brown gave the Greyhounds the lead at 80-79 on a pair of free throws with 3:23 remaining. Following a Niagara turnover, Isreal hit on a lay-up on an assist from freshman guard Brett Harvey to give Loyola a three-point advantage at 82-79. The Purple Eagles regained the lead with 1:45 remaining on a pair of Lorenzo Miles free throws, but sophomore guard Marquis Sullivan's three-pointer 14 seconds later gave Loyola back the lead at 85-83. Miles was fouled with six seconds in regulation and after missing the first of a two-shot foul, purposefully missed the second shot and Lewis tipped in the rebound with three seconds remaining to knot the game for the eighth time and send it to overtime.
Niagara appeared to be in control at the intermission, having responded from an early 18-11 deficit to take a 45-36 half-time lead. Niagara's Charron Fisher did most of the damage with 15 first-half points and Miles added 10. Loyola stayed within striking distance largely on the efforts of Harvey and junior forward Michael Tuck, both of whom made all four of their shots from the field, including a three-pointer, and a free throw for 10 points.
"It was a game of runs and I thought Brett helped us a lot in the first half because he kept making baskets," Tuck said of the 6-0 freshman point guard.
For the second straight game, Loyola placed five players in double figures. Leading the way again was Brown, who scored 26 of his game-high 28 points after the intermission. He added six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Tuck scored a season-high 20 points, making eight of nine from the field, including three three-pointers without a miss. Sullivan made four three-pointers and tallied 18 points. Harvey collected career-bests with 14 points and seven assists and Isreal added 10 points and five rebounds.
Niagara also placed five players in double digits, led by Fisher with 28. J.R. Duffey scored 20, Clif Brown 16, Miles 14 and Lewis' 10 all came after halftime.
The Greyhounds move out of conference play for one game, hosting Towson Monday night at Reitz Arena. Game time is scheduled for 7 o'clock and the game will be televised live on MASN.