Jan. 13, 2012
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Robert Olson scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, including seven in a row at one point, and the Loyola University Maryland men's basketball team overcame a 15-point second half deficit to defeat Fairfield University, 66-63, in front of a national television audience on ESPNU in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action.
The victory moved Loyola's record to 12-4 overall and 5-1 in the MAAC. The Greyhounds are now tied for first place in the league with Iona College, their opponent on Sunday.
The Stags (8-9 overall, 3-3 MAAC) took a 45-30 lead on two Keith Matthews free throws with 16:42 to play. Just over eight minutes later, a Justin Drummond layup capped a 17-5 Greyhounds run that cut Fairfield's lead to 50-47.
Fairfield built its lead back to nine, 58-49, on a traditional 3-point play by Rakim Sanders with 5:52 left, but Loyola (12-4, 5-1) went on a 13-4 rally to tie the game at 62-62 on an Olson three with 79 seconds left.
Erik Etherly, who led all players with 17 points and 10 rebounds, pulled Loyola within five on a dunk with 2:23 to go, but Maurice Barrow put the Stags up seven with a transition layup 16 ticks later.
Olson pulled up for a 15-foot jumper with 1:42 to play, bringing the deficit back to five, 62-57. Dylon Cormier tied up Sanders who caught the ensuing inbound pass, causing a jump ball with the possession arrow pointing Loyola's direction.
Fifteen seconds later, another Olson jumper made it a three-point Fairfield lead.
Cormier then forced another turnover in the backcourt, and he fed Olson who knocked down a three from the right side to tie the game with 1:19 remaining.
Fairfield went back in front by a point when Desmond Wade made 1-of-2 at the free-throw line six seconds later.
The Stags, however, committed a foul nearly 30 feet from the basket, sending Cormier to the line where he made a pair with an even minute to go.
On the offensive end, Sanders misfired from 3-point range, and Ryan Olander missed a tip-in, and the ball went off a Fairfield player in Loyola's favor.
Shane Walker slipped free on the inbound pass and caught the ball at Loyola's free-throw line, drawing a foul with 26 seconds remaining. He made 1-of-2 to put the Greyhounds ahead by two, 65-63.
Sanders drove down the right side of the lane for Fairfield on its ensuing possession, but Walker kept the Stags' leading scorer in front of him. Sanders missed a leaning jumper, and Anthony Winbush pulled down the rebound for the Greyhounds.
Winbush was fouled and made the first of his two free throws, getting a friendly bounce off the back of the iron. Although he missed the second free throw, Sean Crawford missed a three in the low right corner with two seconds to play, and Winbush grabbed another rebound to secure the victory.
"I was proud of our comeback effort. In the past, we may not have gotten over the hump and made the comeback complete, but we took that step tonight," Head Coach Jimmy Patsos said. "We made shots when we needed them, and we played defense well late in the game."
The last time Loyola overcame a deficit of 15 or more to win was when it trailed Coppin State by 20 in the first half. The Greyhounds went on to defeat the Eagles 73-70 on December 10, 2008.
The Greyhounds made 55-percent (11-of-20) in the second half, while they held Fairfield to 8-of-23 (34.8-percent) after the break.
Fairfield led by as many as eight late in the first half, and six at the break, but it raced out of the second-half gate, scoring eight in a row before Drummond made a free throw for Loyola. Fairfield took its biggest lead of the game, 45-30, on its next possession on two Matthews free throws.
Etherly led all players with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Olson tallied 15. Cormer added 12, and Drummond had 10.
Walker had three blocked shots in the game. His third, which came with 13:58 to play on a Maurice Barrow shot, tied his for second all-time at Loyola with 117, matching the total put up by George Sereikas from 1989-1993.
Sanders finished with 17 for the Stags, while Matthews scored 13 off the bench. The Greyhounds held Fairfield's second and third leading scores, Derek Needham and Ryan Olander, to a combined seven points on 3-of-16 shooting. They entered the game averaging 22 points combined.
Loyola is back in action on Sunday when it takes on Iona at 3:30 p.m. in New Rochelle, N.Y.