Feb. 22, 2007
Buffalo, N.Y. - The formula is simple. Win both of their games this weekend coupled with a Marist loss and the Loyola Greyhounds will clinch a tie for the regular-season title, the automatic qualifier to postseason play and the No. 1 seed in next weekend's MAAC Championship. Up first, at Niagara on Friday.
Obviously, it is not quite that simple. But should Siena defeat Marist in Poughkeepsie on Saturday morning (11:00 am, ESPN2), then a sweep of the MAAC Western New York foes would give the Greyhounds a 13-5 MAAC record, tying them for first place with the Red Foxes. Loyola would receive the top seed in the tournament and the automatic qualifier to the National Invitation Tournament (should it not win the MAAC Championship) by virtue of its sweeps of Siena and/or Niagara. Marist would have split with each of those teams.
The prize remains the MAAC Championship which will be decided next weekend at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn. as along with that comes the automatic qualifier to the NCAA Championship. Loyola's only NCAA appearance came via that route when the 1994 team won the MAAC title in Albany, N.Y.
But first, the Greyhounds must take care of their own business. Loyola has never swept the Western New York trip while playing both teams at their home sites. In February 1996, the Greyhounds swept a pair of games against the rivals at the Niagara Falls Convention Center for the only time they have defeated both Canisius and Niagara on the road.
Loyola defeated each of these opponents at home this season, topping Niagara 96-95 in overtime in January and besting Canisius 77-74 two weeks ago.
Junior guard Gerald Brown scored 26 of his 28 points after the intermission and canned the game-winning three-pointer with 20 seconds remaining in the win over Niagara. A total of five Greyhounds scored in double figures for the second straight game. Junior forward Michael Tuck posted a career-high 20 points, sophomore guard Marquis Sullivan made six of seven from the field for his 18 points, freshman guard Brett Harvey scored a then career-best 14 points with a then career-high seven assists and junior forward Omari Isreal chipped in with 10. Loyola shot 61.7 percent from the field and 56.3 percent from three-point range.
Brown also was the leader in the win over Canisius. The Baltimore native scored a game-high 29 points and converted a three-point play with 3:59 remaining to give Loyola a lead that it would not relinquish. Sullivan added 16 and senior forward Josko Alujevic 11 and Isreal collected a double-double in his third straight home game with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Golden Griffins had a decided 50-30 advantage off the glass, but Loyola shot 55.6 percent from the floor and held Canisius to 36.4 percent.
The Greyhounds have already clinched a bye into the quarterfinals at next weekend's championship and established a school record for MAAC wins with 11.