Feb. 18, 2008
Baltimore, Md. - Senior forward Michael Tuck scored 16 second-half points en route to a team-leading 20 and freshman guard Brian Rudolph fed senior forward Omari Isreal for a layup with what proved to be the deciding basket with 71 seconds remaining as Loyola overcame a 15-point deficit to register a 73-68 MAAC home win over Rider Monday night at Reitz Arena.
The Loyola win along with a loss by Siena at Manhattan and Niagara's home win over Saint Peter's Monday creates a four-way tie for first place atop the MAAC standings at 11-5 with two league games to play. The Greyhounds won their ninth game in their last 11 tries and improved to 16-12 on the season. Rider lost its third straight and fell to 18-9.
"This win meant a lot for the school," Loyola fourth-year head coach Jimmy Patsos said following the game. "There was no bigger play than when Gerald Brown dove on the floor and gave the ball up for a layup. When your leader is willing to give us his body and then have the presence of mind to find a teammate for an easy basket - that's what we have been trying to build here since we got here four years ago."
Loyola spent the first 10 minutes of the second half trying to come back from the 12-point halftime advantage that the Broncs built behind 66.7 percent first-half shooting. When Tuck stole the ball and fed the ball ahead to Brown for an easy layup with 9:56 remaining, the Greyhounds had tied the contest at 52-52. Four ties and three lead changes would ensue, the last tie with 2:06 remaining at 67-67 when Brown converted a pair of free throws.
The Greyhounds would score six of the game's last seven points, grabbing the lead for good on Isreal's layup. Brown stripped the ball off the leg of MAAC Preseason Player of the Year Jason Thompson with 45 seconds remaining and Patsos called Loyola's final time out. With the shot clock winding down, Rudolph drove the lane for a successful layup to make the score 71-67 with 16.5 seconds left, but charged following the release of the ball. Rider's Harris Mansell made the first of the one-and-one and Tuck grabbed the rebound on the missed second shot. He was fouled and the senior forward made both shots with 14 ticks left. The Broncs failed on a three-point attempt with seven seconds remaining and the clock expired before another shot was taken.
"The first half, I was quiet and could not get in my rhythm," Tuck said of his effort. "Jimmy let everybody know how he felt at halftime and I took it to heart. I was more aggressive and the shots started to fall."
Tuck's 20-point effort was his fifth in the last 10 games and he was a perfect five-for-five from the free-throw line. He added a team-high nine rebounds. Brown finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. Sophomore guard Brett Harvey scored 10 points, as did junior guard Marquis Sullivan and Rudolph finished with a career-high 10 assists to go along with eight points.
Jason Thompson led Rider with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Harris Mansell tallied 18 and Ryan Thompson added 15, but the tandem was just 2-11 combined in the second half for five points after scoring 28 points combined prior to the intermission. Loyola shot 57.7 percent (15-26) in the second half while holding Rider to 34.4 percent (11-32).
The Greyhounds continue a three-game home stand Saturday when they host UC Davis in the final non-conference game of the season. The Senior Day game tips off at 1 o'clock in Reitz Arena.