Loyola stopped cold by Arizona in 81-55 defeat

March 19, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

SARAMENTO, CALIF — SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- At NCAA tournament games, there's a cooling-off period during which teams wind down before meeting the media.

Loyola didn't wait until after its first-round game against Arizona yesterday to cool down. The Greyhounds went ice cold from the field during a six-minute scoreless stretch of the first half that doomed them and helped the Wildcats, who didn't need any, to an 81-55 victory before 16,477 at the Arco Arena.

In order to have any shot at upsetting the No. 2 seed in the West Regional, Loyola had to shoot well, but the Greyhounds made only eight of 34 shots in the first half, warmed slightly in the second and ended with a .279 percentage (19 of 68) from the field.

The 15th-seeded Greyhounds couldn't even make free throws. Their 11-of-21 shooting at the line rounded out their worst offensive performance of the season and most lopsided loss.

"Part of it was impatience, part of it was stage fright," said first-year coach Skip Prosser. "We lost our composure, and we didn't have good shooters taking good shots. Our ill-advised shots and passes led to easy transition baskets for them, and it was like an avalanche out there. Once Arizona gets started, you can't stop them."

Prosser, who was hired last April Fools' Day, turned around a program that was 2-25 a season ago, but in this chapter of the Greyhounds' fairy tale, the prince turned back into a frog.

Senior forward Michael Reese was the only Greyhound who seemed up to challenging Arizona, which will face Virginia in tomorrow's second round (3 p.m.). Reese scored 15 points on six-of-14 shooting and had six rebounds.

"Arizona's a big-time program, and we're a small-time program just getting started," Reese said. "If we had just taken our time, maybe things would have been different."

Loyola (17-13) would have to do more than shoot well to stay with ninth-ranked Arizona (26-5), which has won 13 of its past 15. The Wildcats got open and made nearly half of their shots, out-rebounded theGreyhounds, 48-42, and played with a keen sense of purpose after being upset in the first round the past two years.

Coach Lute Olson seemed annoyed by the constant questions about those early exits, and the Wildcats got one final reminder of the strange things that happen in the NCAAs when 12th seed Tulsa upset Arizona's Pac-10 rival, UCLA, in the Midwest Regional earlier in the day.

"Most of the team watched that UCLA game this morning," said Damon Stoudamire, the junior who teams with senior Khalid Reeves to give the Wildcats one of the best backcourts in the land. "That game showed you can't take anyone lightly. On the bus here, we talked about that game and the importance of jumping on Loyola right away."

Arizona made certain it didn't join the rest of the West among the NCAA losers. Fellow Pac-10 members UCLA, California and Washington State lost in the first round, as did the five teams from the Big Sky, Big West, Western Athletic and West Coast conferences.

"We let the conference down last year," said Olson, who has guided the Wildcats to seven of the past 10 Pac-10 titles. "Maybe this year it is our turn to do the job."

When they didn't have the ball, the bigger and quicker Wildcats were all over the Greyhounds. When Arizona had the ball, it spread the floor and dared Loyola to stop Reeves in the lane and on the wing.

Senior guard Tracy Bergan tried, as did freshmen Darius Johnson and Milton Williams, and no one could slow Reeves. He scored 12 of his game-high 32 in the first five minutes, and when his free throws stretched the difference to 28 with 15:16 left, Reeves and Loyola were tied with 25 points apiece.

For 10 minutes, Loyola showed the poise, confidence and hustle that brought it three upsets at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament and its first NCAA bid. Bergan's jumper from the foul line on a fast break cut Arizona's lead to 16-15 with 10:14 gone in the first half, but the Greyhounds' score stayed there until Williams fed Reese with 3:35 remaining in the half.

In the interim, Arizona scored 16 unanswered points to build a 32-15 lead. Loyola rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat Manhattan in thechampionship game of the MAAC tournament, but the Greyhounds left their bag of miracles in Albany, N.Y. Just to make certain, the Wildcats scored the first seven points on the second half. With 12:11 to go, the score was still doubled at 58-29.

Stoudamire had 16 points and nine assists, and 6-foot-10 sophomore center Joseph Blair had 13 points. Bergan led Loyola with 17 points, but he was 6-for-18 shooting and turned an ankle in the first half.

"I know I hurried some shots," said Bergan. "Being the senior point guard, I thought if I could drop some shots, even some bad ones, it might relax the rest of the team."


Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.