When Lake Clifton visited Loyola a month ago, guard Kevin Norris was weakened with the flu and played less than two quarters in the Lakers' loss. Disappointed, he looked forward to yesterday's rematch.
"We were really pumped up," Norris said. "We couldn't wait to get them back home."
The wait proved rewarding. Norris scored a game-high 34 points, including six three-pointers, and the No. 3 Lakers blew out the No. 6 Dons, 105-83, in an MSA A Conference Division I game at Lake Clifton.
Defense was the key for Lake Clifton (10-2, 5-1), which will play top-ranked Dunbar on Friday night. Without Norris leading the press, Loyola (14-7, 2-4) was able to control the tempo in its 71-68 win on Dec. 23. But with Norris healthy yesterday, he helped the Lakers force 38 turnovers.
The bulk came in the first quarter, when the Dons had 15 turnovers. After opening with a three-pointer, Loyola committed turnovers on four straight possessions. Later in the quarter, while trailing by just 14-9, the Dons committed five straight turnovers. That allowed Lake Clifton to score nine straight points -- 18 of their 28 first-quarter points followed Loyola turnovers -- to take a commanding lead.
"We figured it would happen -- they pressed us at our place and we knew they would come at us," Loyola coach Jerry Savage said. "That was probably the worst we've handled the ball recently."
After falling behind by as many as 15 in the opening period, the Dons cut the margin to nine by halftime. But that was as close as the game would get. Norris and Anthony Lang (25 points) combined to score 20 points in the third quarter, as Lake Clifton went up by as many as 16.
The Lakers would go up by 24 late in the game. The Dons were led by Jerry Hunt (21 points) and Steve Kraning (20 points).
"The first quarter we came out and played with intensity, although we fell off some in the second quarter," said Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore. "Kevin had a good day for us and our overall execution was good."
The Lakers, whose only other loss this season was to No. 2 Southern, will be looking to make a claim for the top ranking Friday when they face the Poets at Morgan State (7 p.m.) in a battle of East Baltimore rivals. The Lakers are making no promises -- except to be competitive.
"I'm not going to say we're going to win, and I'm not going to say we're going to lose," Norris said. "What I will say is that it will be a game. We'll come out and play them tough."