While those around him seemed unable to lift the lid from the basket Southern senior John Salley put on a scoring show from inside to lead the No. 2-ranked Bulldogs past host Loyola, 63-50, last night.
The victory evened Southern's record at 2-2 and improved its Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference Division II record to 2-0. Loyola suffered its first loss after opening with four non-conference victories.
The 6-foot-7 Salley, whose 10 first-half points had helped Southern to a 26-17 halftime lead, connected on all six of his third quarter field-goal attempts as the Bulldogs built a commanding 43-29 lead after three quarters. His teammates, however, who had hit on only three of 15 shots from the field in the second quarter, fared just as poorly in the third quarter, going 2-for-11.
But the Southern defense, keyed by David Cason and Che Evans, who combined for eight steals, and some extremely shaky free-throw shooting by Loyola (11-for-24) wouldn't allow the Dons to take advantage of the ice-cold shooting.
"We played great defense," Southern coach Meredith Smith said. "And Salley had a tremendous game offensively and on the boards. And David Cason, even if he's not scoring, can do what we need."
Loyola, playing without senior point guard Mike Smith, who broke a hand earlier this week in a victory over Wilde Lake, and senior guard Kevin Reeb, never managed to get closer than 12 points in the final quarter. But it was the second quarter that really hurt Loyola's chance for an upset. While Southern was having all kind of difficulty at the offensive end, Loyola was shut out from the field (0-for-7) and managed only three free throws (3-for-9) as the visitors expanded on a two-point first quarter lead.
Salley, who finished with 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds, then took control of the game early in the third quarter after Loyola center Brad Garey picked up his fourth personal foul just 1 minute, 39 seconds into the third quarter.
"Our game plan was to get the ball inside," Smith said. "And Cason can do what we need. He's like a coach on the floor."
Cason finished with 12 assists and Evans chipped in with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Loyola coach Jerry Savage was satisfied that his team refused to let up against Southern in its first game without Smith. "We didn't back off, but Southern is a good basketball team," he said. "They're quick, strong and they can shoot."