Jan. 31, 2010
BALTIMORE, Md. - Niagara finished the half making 13 of 19 shots (68.4 percent) during the final 15:34 of the first half and did not allow Loyola to get closer than six the remainder of the game as the Purple Eagles won for just the second time in eight games with an 86-77 victory Sunday afternoon in Reitz Arena.
After the Greyhounds jumped out 7-4 just 4:26 into the game, Niagara used 19-9 and 11-2 runs to build a 41-28 lead at the intermission. The Purple Eagles missed six of their first seven shots, but missed just six more the rest of the half, finishing at 53.8 percent (14-26) for the half. Anthony Nelson finished the half with 10 points and four assists to lead Niagara.
The Purple Eagles started the second half with an 8-4 spurt for their largest lead of the game at 49-32 with 16:49 remaining. Loyola would score 16 of the next 21 points to close its deficit to six at 54-48 on a layup by senior guard Brett Harvey with 9:41 left.
Niagara responded over the next five-and-a-half minutes with a 16-7 run of its own that included three straight three-pointers by Demetrious Williamson, Bilal Benn and Nelson to push the lead back to 15 with 4:15 remaining. The Greyhounds used the next three minutes to close the deficit to six on a baseline drive by senior forward Garrett Kelly, but the Purple Eagles finished the game sinking 12 of 16 free throws to close out the game.
"Niagara as a team has a lot of pride and a lot of experience," Greyhounds sixth-year head coach Jimmy Patsos said after the game. "I thought we got a little shook up when [senior guard] Tony Lewis went out of the game. He scored 14 points Thursday and has been playing well filling in [sophomore forward Anthony] Winbush's minutes."
Lewis left the game with 8:48 remaining in the first half after playing just three minutes following a hard foul on a layup attempt. Winbush missed his third straight game with an injury suffered at Siena on January 21.
The Purple Eagles were led by Williamson's game-high 20 points and eight rebounds. Benn added 17 points and a game-high nine rebounds and Nelson chipped in with 15. Rob Garrison rounded out the double-figure scorers for Niagara with 10 points. Leading scorer Tyrone Lewis was held to half his average, tallying just nine, the same as Austin Cooley scored off the bench.
Harvey led Loyola with 18 points and was followed by 15 points by junior guard Brian Rudolph. Sophomore guard J'hared Hall scored 14 points off the bench in 21 minutes and freshman forward Julius Brooks added a career-high 10 points while matching his career-best with eight rebounds in his first non-starting role.
The Greyhounds are back in action Friday night with the opening game of a two-game road trip at Rider at 7 o'clock. Loyola visits Manhattan on Super Bowl Sunday at 2 o'clock.