No. 6 Mount St. Joseph held No. 11 Loyola scoreless for a five-minute span in the third quarter to take control and went on to win its fifth straight Catholic League game, 72-65, over the host Dons yesterday.
Leading, 40-39, early in the third quarter, the Gaels (13-4, 5-0) scored the next 13 points to open a 53-39 lead with just over a minute left in the third quarter.
"Our defense in the third quarter did it for us," Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Maggio said. "We stopped them with our defense. This is a big win on the road for us."
A pair of medium-length jumpers by Pat Young and a follow-up basket by Sharif Butler had put the Gaels ahead, 46-39, when Loyola coach Jerry Savage called for time.
But the Dons were scoreless on their next five trips down the floor, missing a pair of layups and then turning the ball over on three straight possessions. At the other end, Ronnie Isaacs, who scored 11 of his 13 in the second half, scored twice for St. Joe, and co-captain Darrin Jones, who led all scorers with 27, added three free throws, and the 14-point lead was too much for Loyola (10-8, 4-2).
"We were just scrambling after that," Savage said. "The missed layups really put us in a hole."
Loyola chopped away at the St. Joe lead throughout the fourth quarter, eventually cutting it to 67-64 after a three-point field goal from Paul Chryssikos with 48 seconds left. But St. Joe, which made 26 of 32 free throws, sealed the victory at the line in the closing seconds, as Isaacs and Jeff Servidio each made three.
Loyola, which shot 58 percent from the field in the first half but was tied, 35-35, at halftime, was led by Paul Howard with 15 points.
"St. Joe played very well," said Savage. "They scrapped on the boards, and they're a well-balanced team with two outstanding players in Jones and Young. Right now, they've really got it going."
The Gaels have breathing room in the regular-season title race, since all other Catholic League teams have lost at least twice. Also impressive are the two consecutive road wins -- at Cardinal Gibbons Jan. 13 and at Loyola yesterday.
"[Mount St. Joseph] is in great shape," said Savage. "It's a long season, but right now I'll trade places with him."
St. Joe, which hasn't lost since being beaten by Edmondson in the Wes Unseld Christmas Tournament Dec. 27, gets its biggest challenge tomorrow, when it faces top-ranked Dunbar in a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference Division I game.
In other Catholic League boys games, Quintin Moody and Nick Angelo each scored 14 to lead No. 7 Cardinal Gibbons (11-6, 3-2) to a 75-39 rout of visiting Archbishop Curley.
Devin Gray scored 22 and grabbed 10 rebounds, as No. 16 St. Frances (9-5, 4-2) defeated Towson Catholic, 56-47.
St. Maria Goretti (9-7, 2-3), behind 25-for-26 foul shooting, defeated visiting Calvert Hall (5-12, 2-5), 61-47.
In Catholic League interdivision games, Melissa Cuneo's 20 points led No. 6 Seton Keough (8-3) to a 58-48 victory over visiting Mount de Sales, and Melanie Vogel, Jen Jaskulski and Stacy Couser each scored 13, as host Institute of Notre Dame (5-4) defeated Archbishop Spalding (9-8), 56-37.