The droughts have ended for Loyola College.
After almost nine years without a victory over archrival Mount St. Mary's, the Greyhounds broke the spell last night, 72-60, in the opening game of the Beltway Classic at the Towson Center. The most recent Loyola victory over Mount St. Mary's had been Dec. 8, 1981.
In tonight's championship game, the Greyhounds (2-1) will play Towson State, which beat UMBC, 83-75. Loyola never trailed after Kevin Green's short jumper put it ahead in a 17-1 spurt that provided a 19-8 lead.
A zone defense and solid bench help enabled Loyola to hold off the Mount and advance into tonight's championship game against the Towson State-UMBC survivor. The triumph also broke an 0-4 Beltway Classic streak for Loyola.
"It wasn't pretty, but it was a win," said Greyhounds coach Tom Schneider. "Considering Loyola's history in this tournament, we're satisfied with it."
Mount St. Mary's (0-3) came into the game without two major backcourt weapons, Kevin Booth and Doug John, and simply lacked the necessary firepower.
"This was about what we were afraid of," said coach Jim Phelan. "They were non-shooting, tentative and uncertain of themselves. We just did not have enough practice time to do what we wanted to do."
Booth and John both were knocked out of action Monday night at Navy.
Freshman Dave Kapaona started at point guard for the Mount and had a respectable game (10 points), but "he is not ready to step in and be authoritative," Phelan said.
The Mount concentrated its defense on Loyola guards Tracy Bergan and Green, holding them to a combined 25 points, 28 below their combined average.
"We got what was vastly needed," said Schneider. "The guys off the bench were terrific. We didn't get that help Wednesday [in a loss at La Salle]."
Bergan said: "Mike Malone came in and played well and so did [John] Haggler. There are 15 guys on this team, and there are times Kevin and me aren't going to do it. Everybody has to stay in it."
Mount St. Mary's final comeback cut the deficit to 61-58 with 5 minutes, 37 seconds remaining. But Loyola scored the next 11 points -- five on free throws by Marqus Hamwright -- and sealed the decision.
The Mount did not have a basket the rest of the game until Alex Watson jammed an uncontested dunk for the final points. Scott Murphy, in to shoot three-pointers, missed three in a row from beyond the line.
"We have to shake things up and get some aggressiveness out there," said Phelan. "We missed and missed. I guess the way to play us is to make us make something."
Loyola, with freshman Haggler and center Mike Wagner grabbing eight rebounds each, won the board battle, 41-29, and shot 50 percent from the field for the second time this season. The team did that only twice in 28 games last season.
Green had 19 points to lead the scoring, but was 10 below his previous average, as Bobby Hill did a good defensive job against him.
"The five guys [all reserves] in the game at the end of the first half kept the lead and added to it," said Schneider. "We got some good help tonight."