Dealing a last-place team its seventh straight loss is rarely cause to rejoice, but Loyola took great pleasure in yesterday's 73-63 defeat of St. Peter's.
The Peacocks are minus four starters who took them to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title and the NCAA tournament last year, but they came to Reitz Arena with a four-game win streak over the Greyhounds. Three were decided in overtime, including a triple-overtime affair in their last visit to Loyola.
"That's a very significant win," Loyola coach Tom Schneider said. "St. Peter's is a name program in our league, and they've been in the top echelon for several years. They still have some pretty good talent, and it's a psychological boost for us to beat them, especially after all the close losses we've had to them."
Leading scorer Kevin Green got in early foul trouble and was limited to 10 points, but Schneider got solid numbers from his bench and season-high 55.6 percent marksmanship from the field. The Greyhounds' defense was its usual stingy self, as St. Peter's committed 19 turnovers, seven by Antoine Allen, the lone starter back from last year's NCAA team. The Peacocks were limited to 37.7 percent (20-for-53) shooting from the field.
It was 10-10 with five minutes gone, but Loyola went on an 18-2 tear in the next eight minutes. At the end of the spurt, freshman forward Brian Pendleton was the only starter on the floor. Senior Kevin Anderson, who had three baskets at the end of the run, and freshman Chad Anderson made the most of their minutes on the wings.
St. Peter's rallied to within 32-29 with 1 minute, 14 seconds left, before another reserve, sophomore forward Mark Sparzak, dunked off a steal for some breathing room before halftime.
Loyola's defensive pressure remained a factor in the second half, as Michael Reese had a hand in two St. Peter's turnovers and a 42-29 lead. Reese dunked off a lob pass from Tracy Bergan for a 53-40 spread with 9:18 left, and the Peacocks never got closer than the final 10-point difference.
Reese was 7-for-8 from the free-throw line and finished with 15 points. Kevin Anderson had 11 on 4-for-6 shooting from the field, four assists and three rebounds. Anderson, a senior from Loyola High, had been a Greyhounds starter since midway through his sophomore season, but he assumed a substitute's role in late December.
"There was a minor adjustment involved," Anderson said, "but I like coming off the bench. It's funny, but I feel like I'm better prepared to play now."
Loyola, which will be after its third straight victory when it plays host to Towson State tomorrow night, got nine points and six rebounds from Bergan and six rebounds from Pendleton. Chuck Veterano had a game-high 18 points for St. Peter's, but only four in the first half.