A few years ago, Loyola basketball cringed at the sight of local competition. From January 1986 to February 1990, the Greyhounds played 17 times against Division I foes from Maryland, and lost 16 of them.
Loyola is working on a streak in the other direction. The Greyhounds won the Beltway Classic last weekend and repeated their championship victory over UMBC with a 78-76 victory over the Retrievers last night.
Stanley Wright's three-pointer off the glass with 11 seconds remaining forged a tie at 76 for UMBC (1-5), but the Retrievers acquiesced at their defensive end, where Loyola point guard Tracy Bergan fed a wide-open Michael Reese for the winning margin with four seconds left. It was the sixth straight win against local competition for the Greyhounds (3-4).
"Last year we beat every area team on our schedule at least once," said junior center George Sereikas. "We're working this year to repeat that feat."
Sereikas had a career-high 12 rebounds and six blocked shots, setting a school record for career blocks with 67. The Greyhounds shot only 40.3 percent from the field, but they held UMBC scoreless for more than five minutes late in the second half, before Brian Watkins' tap-in with 2:51 left forced a tie at 69.
Kevin Green, the senior guard out of Dunbar who had a game-high 27 points, scored three straight Greyhound baskets for a 75-71 lead. UMBC fought back on a tap-in by Sony Nixon and Wright's off-balance three-pointer for the tie at 76, before Bergan took the in-bounds pass, dribbled to half-court through minimal resistance, and got the ball to Reese, who had 21 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.
"We celebrated when we should have got back on defense," UMBC coach Earl Hawkins said. "That's a valuable lesson. If we get back, the game goes into overtime, and hopefully we win it there."
The Retrievers were a dreadful 3-13 from the free-throw line in the first half, which finished with Hawkins getting a technical after an apparent mix-up in fouls charged to his team. Bergan, who had 16 points and nine assists, made one of the technical free throws to start the second half, beginning an 8-2 run that put Loyola ahead 42-30.
It was 58-51 with 13 minutes left after Green's jumper from the left baseline, but the Retrievers used a 10-0 spurt to take a 61-58 advantage with 10:55 remaining. Loyola stepped up its defensive pressure, however, with Sereikas denying the Retrievers inside and Green getting some big steals on the perimeter.
UMBC got 23 points and a game-high 14 rebounds from Nixon, who was on the bench at the start as Hawkins shook up his lineup. Wright, a sophomore forward, had 20 points and five rebounds.