Reitz Arena turned into the theater of the absurd last night.
Who would've believed Loyola College would shoot better from the three-point line (4-for-8) than the free throw line (10-for-22)?
Who would've thought Fairfield University could win a two-point game on the road hitting 13 of 30 foul shots?
How on earth do you explain Fairfield collecting 22 more rebounds than Loyola?
And what was this, anyway, a fire sale?
The only logical conclusion to be drawn from Fairfield's plodding, 68-66 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory over Loyola was that Fairfield wanted out of last place more than Loyola wanted a winning season.
"It's one of the most disappointing games of my career," Loyola coach Tom Schneider said in a dreary post-mortem. "Because of the effort."
The Greyhounds apparently left more than a puddle of perspiration on the floor in last week's four-overtime loss at Niagara. They may have left their season there. Because in the two games since that 98-96 loss, they were blown out by 31 at Canisius and lost to a last-place team that had lost 11 of its previous 12 games.
"It's a malaise that hit us last year," Schneider said, reaching for his team's erratic pulse. "After a tough loss at Fairfield, we packed it in and lost the last five games.
"I don't know if it's a leadership factor or not, but it's two years in a row this has happened."
Last year, at least, was understandable. The Greyhounds were staggering through a 4-24 campaign. This year's malaise is quite another matter.
Losing at home most likely sentenced Loyola (12-14, 5-10) to its fourth straight losing season. It will take a victory over St. Peter's on Saturday and a highly improbable sweep of the MAAC tournament to bring in a winner now.
The Greyhounds didn't help their tournament chances any last night, either. They kicked away a chance to clinch the sixth-place seed when Fairfield's Drew Henderson tipped in the game-winner with four seconds left.
"We've been getting a lot of good press lately and maybe we don't deserve it," Schneider volunteered. "Maybe we're not mature enough to handle it."
After trailing by as many as nine points, Loyola had its chances to win in the final two minutes. But Kevin Green (19 points) missed a potential go-ahead bucket with just over a minute left, and Tracy Bergan (12 points) forced a bad shot at :36.
Henderson's winning tip, off a missed layup by Kevin George, nullified a strong game by Loyola's Kevin Anderson. Anderson, shooting 3-for-3 from three-point range, scored a game-high 20 points.
A desperation inbounds pass by Bergan was picked off to ice the game for Fairfield (8-17, 4-10).
In the end, Loyola didn't have enough left to offset another tepid first-half performance.
"We seem to respond better when we back ourselves into a corner," Schneider said of that alarming trend. "Eventually, though, time will run out on you. It ran out on us tonight."