Feb. 11, 2011
BALTIMORE, Md. - A wild finish nearly saw the Loyola University Maryland men's basketball team pull out a win against the Niagara Purple Eagles on Friday night at Reitz Arena, but the Greyhounds fell short in the final seconds and Niagara escaped with the win, 59-57.
Loyola falls to 12-12 overall and 8-6 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, while Niagara improves to 6-20 and 3-11 in the MAAC.
The Greyhounds led by one point on a three-pointer from sophomore guard Robert Olson with 39.2 seconds remaining, but an Anthony Nelson driving layup gave Niagara the eventual winning lead with 15.1 seconds to go. After Olson misfired on another attempt to retake the lead, Niagara's Marvin Jordan came down the rebound and was fouled with 5.5 remaining. He made the second of the two-shot foul for the final margin. Greyhounds senior guard Brian Rudolph came up short on a layup attempt as the final horn sounded after driving the length of the court."The toughest thing in sports is handling success," Greyhounds seventh-year head coach Jimmy Patsos said after the game. "I told my team for three days to ignore the record ... that they [Niagara] were a good team. I thought we lost the game in the first five minutes. We just didn't play with energy and emotion today and we didn't make enough plays."
Loyola began the second half in control, sinking two baskets to continue a scoring run from the first half that eventually ended at 16-0 after Niagara's Eric Williams finished a layup at 18:42. The field goal marked the first for Niagara since the 6:22 mark of the opening half.
The Purple Eagles responded with a run of its own, scoring 11 unanswered points to nearly erase a 40-28 deficit early in the period. Anthony Nelson propelled the offense by tallying eight points during the run.
Olson knocked down a short jumper to halt the Niagara run as the Greyhounds traded baskets to hold on to a thin lead midway through the half.
Niagara chipped away to eventually take the lead on a Scooter Gillette layup, pushing the Purple Eagles ahead, 49-48, with 6:38 remaining in the game.
Rudolph knocked down two free throws to regain the advantage, followed by Kashief Edwards converting one of his own to tie the game at 50-50 at the 5:43 mark.
Erik Etherly slammed home a missed Rudolph layup to tie the game, 54-54, with 1:20 left after each teams traded two-point baskets down the stretch.
A Loyola foul sent Anthony Nelson to the line with 52.7 seconds left, and the Niagara senior converted both to put the Purple Eagles in front, 56-54.
Olson responded for the Greyhounds, taking the lead by sinking the three-pointer 13 seconds later to give Loyola a 57-56 advantage.
Loyola led at the half, 32-23, after a spirited finish that kept the Purple Eagles off of the scoreboard for the final six and a half minutes.
The Greyhounds fell behind to open the game after taking a 7-6 lead, thanks to a 10-0 Niagara run that spanned over five minutes to put the Purple Eagles up 16-7 with 9:29 remaining in the first half.
Shane Walker came to Loyola's rescue, however, knocking down two three-pointers and a layup to help narrow the gap before a pair of J'hared Hall free throws tied the game, 20-20, with six and a half minutes before halftime. Jordan quickly drained a trey to give Niagara the lead, but Niagara's scoring would end there.
Loyola held Niagara without a basket for the rest of the half, forcing the Purple Eagles to shoot 0-for-7 from the floor and turn the ball over five times in the final six and a half minutes.
Meanwhile, the Greyhounds offense rattled off 12 straight points, sending the home side into the locker room at halftime with a nine-point lead, 32-23.
A Walker jumper kicked off the run, followed by a Drummond-to-Etherly alley-oop that brought the Loyola faithful to its feet.
Drummond then connected on a three-pointer to extend the run to seven points before Olson and Drummond each converted a free-throw to push Loyola's lead to 29-23.
Walker ended the first half in dazzling fashion, draining a three-pointer as time expired to give the Greyhounds a 32-23 advantage at the break.
Walker led the Greyhounds with 17 points. Etherly added 13, Drummond chipped in with nine and Olson scored eight. On the glass, Olson led the team with seven and Walker, Etherly and Drummond each contributed six.
Niagara's Anthony Nelson led all scorers with 20 points.
Loyola returns to action on Sunday when the Greyhounds host Canisius in Reitz Arena. The tip-off is slated for noon and the game will be televised live on MASN.