Bergan returns as Loyola holds off UMBC, 69-57

January 13, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Loyola continued its early-season surge last night, but the Greyhounds had to work surprisingly hard to subdue a struggling UMBC team.

Sparked by the return of senior point guard Tracy Bergan and led by the torrid second-half shooting of freshman guard Darius Johnson, the Greyhounds turned back an early rally by the Retrievers and earned a 69-57 victory before 1,060 at Reitz Arena.

The evening showcased two programs going in opposite directions.

Loyola, under first-year coach Skip Prosser, improved to 7-3, marking its best start after 10 games since the 1980-81 season. The Greyhounds, just a year removed from a 2-25 disaster, look like a team that can challenge for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title.

UMBC (1-9), picked to compete for the Big South title, has lost nine straight.

"We're just trying to get better tomorrow. From where we've come, we have no delusions of grandeur," Prosser said. "Our kids have not tasted a lot of success. Now, they think they're going to win these kinds of games."

The Greyhounds won on a night when they did not play particularly well. They shot just 35.4 percent, committed 18 turnovers and went through a horrendous slump in the game's first 10 minutes, which saw them fall into a 19-8 hole.

But Loyola, which had Bergan and senior forward Michael Reese on the court together for the first time in nearly two years, regrouped to put away the Retrievers.

Bergan, who returned after a month-long academic suspension, entered the game with a little more than four minutes gone and ignited a first-half, 12-0 run that moved the Greyhounds to a 20-19 lead.

He then scored the Greyhounds' first eight points of the second half to give Loyola a 40-29 lead, before fouling out with 15 points and four assists.

"I look forward to getting in the flow. It's going to take some time for us to get going as a unit," Bergan said. "We can play better than what we did tonight. It's up to us every day in practice to get better. We've got to start coming out with a little chip on our shoulders."

Reese, who continues his triumphant return from a yearlong disciplinary suspension, finished with 12 points and six rebounds.

But Johnson gave the Greyhounds their biggest lift. After B. J. Pendleton (seven points, six rebounds) scored two baskets to give the Greyhounds a 49-37 lead with 12:53 left, Johnson hit five consecutive shots, including three three-pointers, to give Loyola a 62-45 lead with 4:28 left.

Three-point shooting was one area Loyola had few problems with against the Retrievers. The Greyhounds made nine of 22, with seven of 11 in the second half.

"It's never who you play or where you play, it's how you play," Prosser said. "The only way we are going to win is to spread things around. It was a great team effort, and it was ugly, but sometimes we need to win ugly. UMBC had a great game plan. Despite their record, they are a good team."

Pascal Fleury, a 7-foot-2 center, led the Retrievers with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Spencer Ferguson had 12 points. Kevin Bellinger added 11.

In the early going, the Retrievers did not look like a team with an eight-game losing streak. While Loyola struggled with its shooting, UMBC attacked the Greyhounds' pressing defense with ease to build a 19-8 lead nine minutes into the game.

Reese scored six of Loyola's first eight points, and he then turned an alley-oop pass from Bergan into a slam that ignited a 12-0 run.

UMBC -- Lay 0-6 0-1 0, Bellinger 5-10 1-2 11, Fleury 5-9 3-4 13, Hayes 3-5 0-1 6, Saunders 3-9 0-0 8, Butts 0-0 1-2 1, Ferguson 4-10 4-4 12, Scott 0-3 2-2 2, Thompson 1-4 0-1 2, Tweedy 1-2 0-2 2. Totals 22-58 11-19 57.

LOYOLA -- Tate 1-3 0-0 2, Reese 4-13 4-5 12, Pendleton 3-8 1-2 7, Williams 1-6 2-4 5, Johnson 6-10 0-0 15, Owens 1-4 1-2 4, Gabriel 1-4 2-4 5, Bergan 5-13 2-2 15, Sparzak 1-4 2-4 4. Totals 23-65 14-23 69.

Halftime-- Loyola 32-29. 3-point goals--UMBC 2-8 (Saunders 2-3, Ferguson 0-3, Lay 0-2); LC 9-22 (Johnson 3-4, Bergan 3-6, Williams 1-2, Owens 1-3, Gabriel 1-3, Pendleton 0-2, Reese 0-1, Sparzak 0-1). Rebounds--UMBC 45 (Fleury 14); LC 44 (Tate, Sparzak 7). Assists--UMBC 8 (Hayes 3); LC 16 (Bergan 4). Total fouls--UMBC 22; LC 20. Fouled out--Bergan. A--1,060.

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