The renewal of bragging rights between two longtime rivals came down to the final seconds.
When the horn sounded last night, signaling the end to Loyola's 85-84 victory against Towson State last night before 2,560 at the Towson Center, players from both teams were diving for a loose ball.
Loyola's victory broke a six-game losing streak against Towson, which included a 62-60 loss in the final of the Beltway Classic in December.
"This was a very big win -- as big a win as any outside your conference," said Loyola coach Tom Schneider, whose team (9-11) has beaten Navy, Mount St. Mary's, University of Maryland Baltimore County and Towson -- all the Maryland teams on its schedule. "I've been in a lot of games in the Big 5 [as coach at Pennsylvania], and this one was about as intense as any Big 5 game I've ever seen."
For Towson (13-7), the loss ended an eight-game winning streak, its longest since joining Division I in 1979.
Guard Tracy Bergan (20 points, nine assists) drove the right side and hit a 10-foot jumper over two defenders from the baseline with 12 seconds left to give Loyola the 85-84 lead. Towson pushed the ball upcourt, but was unable to get a shot off before the buzzer.
"We ran a set play for Kevin [Green] on the last shot, but it didn't work out," Bergan said. "We knew Towson likes to double-team, and I just got around Chuck [Lightening] and was able to get the shot off. I couldn't believe it."
The shot saved the Greyhounds the embarrassment of blowing an 11-point lead with 5 minutes, 6 seconds remaining. Trailing by 77-66, Towson went to a full-court press that forced four turnovers on Loyola's next five possessions.
"It was getting real hectic," said Bergan, who committed two of the turnovers. "We had a lead and stopped going to the basket. We just got too tentative."
A layup by Matt Campbell got Towson to within 83-82 with 1:01 left, and then Lewis Waller stole a pass and fed Terrance Jacobs for a layup and Towson led, 84-83, with 45 seconds remaining. But the Tigers, who had final-second wins at home against Bucknell and Delaware, fell short. Jacobs missed three free throws in the final 3:28.
"We were due to miss some shots at the end of these games," said Towson coach Terry Truax. "Loyola played great defense and just had a great effort against us. The conditions were just right for our team to get knocked off tonight."
Loyola, winner of three of its past four, shot 60.7 percent from the field -- the first time this season the team was above 50 percent. Green led the Greyhounds with 28 points, 17 in the second half.
Jacobs had 26 points to lead the Tigers, who led by 12 early and by five in the opening minutes of the second half. Devin Boyd scored 25 -- but had only one field goal in the last 16:57.