If Loyola women's basketball coach Frank Szymanski wasn't sure what kind of players he had recruited last year, he is now.
With three freshmen on the court, Loyola held off a late rally by the University of Maryland Baltimore County and won, 64-62, in the first game of the Big Four Classic last night at the Towson Center.
"I told them it was time to find out what this team was about," Szymanski said. "You can practice all you want, but it's not like a game."
In the second game, Towson State surprised defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion Coppin State with an victory.
The tournament will conclude today with Coppin meeting UMBC at 6 p.m. and Loyola playing Towson at 8 p.m. in the Towson Center.
Loyola's win is a positive sign for a rebuilding team -- a team that won just four games last season. But six freshmen, most notably Coleen Colsher and Patty Stoffey, led the Greyhounds to 1-0. Colsher scored 12 points and Stoffey added nine.
More importantly, they played tough defense. The Greyhounds pressed and trapped favored UMBC into 27 turnovers.
"We emphasize that a lot because we're not that big," said Stoffey, who had three of Loyola's 18 steals.
The Greyhounds trailed by as many as 10 in the second half, but they came back, mostly because of points off turnovers and UMBC's 33 percent shooting in the second half.
Symbolic of the way Loyola came back was when Colsher had a steal at midcourt and an easy layup at the other end to give Loyola a 59-52 lead with 4:36 to play.
She had another steal with 18 seconds remaining and the Greyhounds up by one and added a free throw.
Down by two, the Retrievers had the ball for the last shot. But Karyn Swann's three-point attempt banged off the rim.