No. 8-ranked Loyola connected on 22 of 26 free throws in the fourth quarter to topple No. 19 St. Frances, 66-55, and end a three-game losing streak in Catholic League action at the University of Baltimore last night.
Loyola, 9-5 overall and 1-2 in the Catholic League, outscored the Panthers by 17-4 in a five-minute spurt midway in the second half, opening a 46-35 lead as junior guard Warren Parker hit both ends of a one-and-one situation with just over five minutes to play.
That started an outstanding free-throw exhibition by the Dons, who made 22 of their 28 last-quarter points at the foul line with Parker hitting 10 straight to finish with a game-high 17 points.
"When they got in foul trouble we were able to go to the line and we made it count," said Loyola coach Jerry Savage.
Junior Jerry Hunt hit all four of his free throws down the stretch and finished with 16 for the Dons as St. Frances had its top three offensive players, Orlando Ransom (16 points), Philip Dixon (14) and Mike Smith (8) foul out in the last quarter.
Smith left the game with five minutes to go and the Panthers down 46-37, but St. Frances used a nine-point run to close the gap to 52-48 with 2:37 left.
But sophomore Tim O'Hara, who came off the Dons' bench to score 13 points, hit four free throws and a follow-up basket to give Loyola some breathing room in the closing minutes.
Savage was especially happy to win on the road, after the Dons had lost to Cardinal Gibbons and Dunbar at home and at Towson Catholic in the past week. "We really needed a win," Savage said. "We had to get this one, if we had any hope of staying in the Catholic League race."
The loss drops the Panthers, the defending regular season champions to 0-3 in the league (3-7 overall).
Loyola built a 15-7 first-quarter advantage as the Panthers were misfiring on 12 of their first 13 field-goal tries. The Dons had opened a 10-3 edge after a three-pointer by Parker with three minutes left in the opening quarter. Then St. Frances finally got its second field goal of the game, a drive through the lane by Ransom.
In the second quarter it was Loyola that had the offensive problems missing five of its first six shots and falling victim to four Panther steals that led to baskets. St. Frances scored the first six points of the quarter to close the Don lead to 15-13. Then, after Hunt's follow-up basket for the Dons with 5:20 left in the half, the Panthers scored the next eight points to take a 21-17 lead with just under two minutes to go.
O'Hara came off the bench to hit a 17-footer for Loyola, snapping a four- minute Dons' scoring drought. And Steve Kraning put Loyola on top at the half, 22-21, with his first field goal of the game -- a three-pointer. Kraning, taken out of the offensive flow by the Panther defense, finished with nine points.