Jan. 16, 2004
Baltimore, Md. - Freshmen guards Shane James and Jamaal Dixon each posted career-high point totals, but Loyola's only two players in double figures could not match Niagara's four, and in the end the Purple Eagles left Reitz Arena with a 79-55 win on Friday night.
Dixon, who made his first collegiate start, scored six of Loyola's first eight points, driving to the basket and creating offense for a Greyhound team looking for its offensive rhythm. The Purple Eagles, however, pressured the 'Hounds from the start to build a 21-8 lead.
"Niagara's guards are very athletic," says Dixon. "They kept the pressure on us all night and we helped them by missing free throws and wide-open shots."
The Greyhounds would battle back and with Bernard Allen's free throw to cap a three-point play, the score was 28-22. Sophomore Charlie Bell, who played with a sore ankle, cut Niagara's lead to five points with a bucket at 2:45. The Purple Eagles knocked in a pair of free throws and went into the halftime lockeroom with a 33-26 lead.
"Niagara is a very good team and a tough opponent for us on a good day," says Loyola Head Coach Scott Hicks. "We were spread very thin tonight, not only with all the injuries but also with a couple players fighting illness at halftime. We didn't have much left in the second half."
Dixon scored Loyola's first three-points of the second half, but it would be all Niagara for the next 10 minutes. A 2-for-19 start to the second period left Loyola in a 36-point hole. The Greyhounds, who started the game with eight healthy players found themselves in foul trouble and lost Sean Corrigan at 7:25 and Jim Chivers at 3:27 to leave Hicks with virtually no bench.
"It is critical that we get healthy and fast," says Bell. "We're a wounded team, but I still believe we can pull it together. We just need to get healthy to make a run at the MAAC Championships."
The Greyhounds missed their first 14 three-point field attempts and finished the game shooting 31 percent from the field. James led all the Greyhounds with 17 points while Dixon finished with 16 points and three assists. Juan Mendez led all scorers with 27 points while pulling down 12 rebounds for Niagara.
Loyola drops to 0-15 while Niagara improves to 10-4. The Greyhounds play their third straight home game this Sunday at 4 p.m. They host Canisius in the second game of a men-women double-header.