Two minutes into the second half at Reitz Arena last night, Loyola College coach Tom Schneider signaled for a timeout, disgust on his face.
The Greyhounds trailed by 14 points and were in danger of seeing their three-game winning streak ended by a Manhattan team that came into the game in second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
"There certainly weren't any X's and O's discussed at that point," said Schneider. "We talked about pride and told them, 'You either do it now or you're going to get run out of your own building.' They responded."
And how. Loyola, pressing and overplaying on defense, forced four turnovers and a missed shot in the next 2 1/2 minutes, scored 12 straight points and took the sting out of Manhattan. Guard Tracy Bergan assumed control for most of the remainder of the game, and the Greyhounds went on to an 81-72 victory, their sixth in the past seven games.
Bergan finished with 29 points, Kevin Green added 26 and forward Derek Campbell supplied a creditable defensive job on the Jaspers' big gun, Keith Bullock, the MAAC Rookie of the Year last season, who was held to six of 15 from the field.
"At halftime, the coach was telling us that they were the more aggressive, tougher team at our court," said Bergan, "but I guess it didn't get through because the second half started the same way.
"He more or less reamed us out during that timeout."
Loyola (12-11, 5-7) took the lead to stay on a drive by Bergan with 8 minutes, 22 seconds to play and built its edge to 72-61 when the foul parade began.
The outcome will almost guarantee that the Greyhounds will avoid the postseason tournament qualifying game between the No. 8 and No. 9 finishers.
"We didn't want to play in that," said Bergan. "We'd like to get up as high as fifth. If we win the rest of our games, anything can happen."
Manhattan (13-10, 8-4) had won nine of its past 13, including a 73-68 triumph over the Greyhounds on Jan. 2 in New York. The Jaspers have set a record for conference victories.
"This was an excellent win for us against a good team that has been playing well," said Schneider. "It was a key to out-rebound them, 51-38."
About those sluggish Loyola starts?
"Maybe they like it this way," the coach said. "This team seems to do better coming from behind."