Trailing throughout the first half, No. 8 Cardinal Gibbons (7-6) scored the first eight points of the third quarter and went on to a convincing 63-55 victory at No. 6 Loyola (8-3) last night in the Catholic League opener for both teams.
Senior guard Quintin Moody, who led the Crusaders with 18 points, opened the third quarter with a 15-foot jumper to pull Gibbons within a point of the Dons. Then senior center Chuckie Lee, who finished with 13 points, made a steal and jam that put the Crusaders ahead to stay.
Sophomore Richard Dent scored the next two Gibbons baskets to build a 37-32 lead just over two minutes into the second half and Loyola never got closer than two points after that.
Gibbons led 47-42 after three quarters, while hitting on nine of 23 field goals in the quarter and limiting Loyola to 2-for-8 shooting.
"We knew we had to play stronger defense in the second half and we did," said Gibbons coach Ray Mullis. "It's a great way to start the league with a win over a very good team."
Although it only managed a 35-35 tie on the boards, Gibbons held a big 26-17 rebound advantage in the second half when it took command. Lee led Gibbons with 10 rebounds.
A 12-foot jumper by Loyola's Wes Unseld cut the lead to 50-46 in the first minute of the fourth quarter, but Loyola never got any closer.
Junior center Jerry Hunt led Loyola with 21 points, but managed only seven in the second half as Gibbons' defense cut off the inside path he used effectively in the opening half. Warren Parker added 16 for the Dons.
Loyola senior forward Steve Kraning, who finished with just four points, was held scoreless in the second half as senior Damon Fleary cut off his outside shot.
After Gibbons scored the first three points of the game, Loyola answered with 12 of the next 14 to open a 12-5 lead with just over three minutes to play in the opening quarter. The Dons held a 16-8 lead after the first quarter as Parker and Hunt each scored six.
Hunt (7-for-9 in the first half) hit all four of his field-goal tries in the second quarter, but Loyola never managed a bigger lead tha eight points. The Crusaders, with Lee working inside and Moody on the outside, cut the Dons' lead to 26-24 on an acrobatic three-point play by Moody with 2:26 left in the half.
After Loyola opened the margin to six, sophomore guard Steve Wojciechowski hit a three-pointer with less than 10 seconds left in the half to cut the Dons' halftime lead to 32-29.