March 3, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Dylon Cormier scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, and Loyola University Maryland shot a season-high 63-percent from the field as the No. 2 seed Greyhounds defeated No. 7 Niagara University, 86-73, in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Quarterfinal on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center.
The win puts Loyola (22-8 overall) into the MAAC Semifinals for the first time since 2007-08. The Greyhounds will face the winner of Saturday night's last quarterfinal between No. 3 Manhattan College and No. 6 Siena College. Loyola and the victor will play Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN3.
After making 55-percent of its shots in the first half, Loyola found itself tied at 37-37 heading into the locker room the break when Niagara's Juan'ya Green got a steal in the backcourt and scored with just over three seconds left.
The Greyhounds, however, shot even better in the second half. The Greyhounds made 18-of-26 after the break (69.2-percent).
Niagara took an early lead in the second 20 minutes, but a Cormier three from the right wing put the Greyhounds in front, 42-41, with 17:51 to play. Although it would remain a tight game all night, the Purple Eagles (14-19) would not regain the lead.Cormier's three sparked a modest 9-0 Loyola run that was capped by back-to-back dunks from Erik Etherly and Justin Drummond.
Niagara punched right back, pulling within a point, 48-47, when Green was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws to cut Loyola's deficit to one.
Cormier and Etherly made layups on consecutive possessions, but Ameen Tanksley hit a three from the right side, bringing Niagara back within a pair, 52-50 with 13:39 on the clock.
Shane Walker, who finished with 13 points and game-high 12 rebounds, dumped a pass to Etherly on the right-side baseline on Loyola's next trip down the court. Etherly threw down a dunk that sparked another Loyola run, this one of the 7-0 variety that Cormier capped with a three off a Robert Olson assist.
Green responded with a three of his own, but after Olson splashed one at 10:02 to put Loyola up 62-53.
Neither team scored for the next 1:09, but an Olson three gave the Greyhounds a 12-point advantage at 8:52, at that point the largest lead of the game for either team.
Niagara slowly chipped away at Loyola's lead, pulling within five, 74-69, at 2:46 on a Marvin Jordan three from the left corner. Olson came back on the offensive end with the shot clock winding down, making a driving layup to push Loyola back up seven.Joseph Thomas scored in the paint on Niagara's next possession at 1:56, but Loyola would hold the Purple Eagles scoreless for the next 100 seconds.
Etherly and Anthony Winbush both made free throws, and then Etherly tipped away an Antoine Mason pass and went coast-to-coast for a layup with 51 ticks on the clock, giving the Greyhounds an 11-point cushion.
Etherly finished with 21 points, marking the third time this season - also wins at UMBC and against Iona College - that he and Cormier have topped the 20-point mark in the same game.
Loyola used a 33-25 rebounding advantage in the game, and the Greyhounds had 15 assists to just 11 turnovers. Loyola also doubled-up the Purple Eagles in the paint, scoring 44 points there to Niagara's 22.
Green finished with 22 points to lead Niagara, while Malcom Lemmons and Mason each had 11.
After the two sides were tied at 35 at halftime, the Greyhounds built a 12-point lead with a 17-6 run that stretched from the 14:47 until the 8:52 mark of the second half. Robert Olson hit a pair of 3-pointers in the stretch while Cormier added five and Etherly had four.