Dec. 5, 2004
Baltimore, Md. - Sophomore Shane James scored a career-high 27 points and led Loyola to a 97-89 victory over Niagara on Sunday afternoon at Reitz Arena. The Greyhounds, shooting 55 percent from the field, earn their first win of the season and give first-year coach Jimmy Patsos his first career victory.
"I'm very proud of how our team battled today," says Patsos. "After a bad performance at Saint Peter's, we came back and believed in ourselves. Shane James, for example, had a bad game at Saint Peter's. I was tough on him in practice and he came out and had as good a day as anyone in the country today."
James finished the game 9-for-9 from the field, pulled down eight rebounds and had two assists versus two turnovers in 37 minutes against Niagara's pressure. In the first half, he extended an early Loyola lead with a three-pointer and followed that up with a spin move lay-in that made the score 23-14.
"I went as hard as I could today," says James. "Niagara is a very good team and it sure feels good to get our first win against them."
The Purple Eagles put together an 8-0 run late in the first half and trailed 38-31 with 1:25 left in the period. The Greyhounds remained poised and went into the lockeroom with a 40-36 lead. James doubled that lead as the second half began, scoring two quick buckets to get the period started.
Scoring 42 points in the paint, the Greyhounds were the aggressors and drew 37 Purple Eagle fouls. Junior Charlie Bell made sure the fouls would count, draining 14-of-17 free throw attempts. Niagara's best hope for a comeback would be crushed when leading scorer Juan Mendez was ejected with two technical fouls, picking up his second with 7:52 remaining in regulation.
Loyola scored 14 fast-break points, including the clincher when Bell made a half-court steal and walked in for the easy lay-up and final the eight point margin. Bell finished the game with 20 points, freshmen Freddie Stanback and Brad Farrell each scored 14 while senior Bernard Allen added 12.
"We need to turn this into a winning streak," says James. "Winning this game is a great confidence booster."
The win snaps a 13 game losing streak to Niagara and a 14-game losing streak dating back to last season. Loyola's 97 points is the most it has scored since the 1999-2000 season. The Purple Eagles, now 4-2 on the year are tied with Loyola in the MAAC at 1-1. Mendez, despite his second-half ejection, led Niagara with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
The Greyhounds are 1-5 this season and will remain in the friendly confines of Reitz Arena for a Saturday afternoon game with Mount St. Mary's. That game is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will have Loyola great David Gately's jersey retired.