Hurd leads Loyola over UMBC hurdle, 79-67 Knee surgery (( behind him, forward scores 15, grabs 9 rebounds for Greyhounds

November 24, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The only other time UMBC opened its men's basketball season this early was five years ago, when the Retrievers lost by 64 points at No. 1 Kansas.

At least yesterday's game was sure to be closer. And the Retrievers would have to settle for that.

Loyola College didn't come away without an injury -- that's almost a given with the Greyhounds -- but it also took home a 79-67 victory before 2,612 at UMBC Fieldhouse.

Junior guard Mike Powell went to the locker room early in the first half with a sprained ankle, but returned less than five minutes later and led the Greyhounds with 18 points. Senior forward Anthony Smith, another of the walking wounded, finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks.

But perhaps the most intriguing chapter in Loyola's success story was freshman forward Blanchard Hurd (Milford Mill), a medical redshirt last season whose playing time was expected to be limited because of surgery last year on his right knee. Logging 29 minutes and moving with ease, the 6-foot-7 Hurd totaled 15 points and nine rebounds and gave Loyola an inside presence that UMBC couldn't match.

"The whole thing that made it work for us was Blanchard, no FTC question about it," said Loyola coach Brian Ellerbe.

"You had two teams struggling to score in the post, and he was the one guy who was able to do it. For him to practice a couple days a week and come up with 15 and nine, I mean, we were thinking like 10 and four. And he played a ton of minutes. We kept asking, 'Does he need a blow now? Do we want to rest him?' But he was playing well and he played like he had been on the floor a little bit."

He didn't spend as much time there last year as he had wanted, starting just three games and appearing in six total before being redshirted. Yesterday, he said it just felt good to be able to produce.

"I got my jitters out during the exhibition game [Monday]. They have a lot of confidence in me, so that made me have a lot of confidence in myself," he said. "It's been awhile. I love being out there."

UMBC could counter only with the long-range shooting of sophomore Michael van Veen, who didn't come off the bench until late in the first half but wound up being the game's leading scorer with 24 points. He made six of nine attempts from beyond the arc in shattering his previous career-high of 11 points, set against Coastal Carolina in the final game of the regular season.

"When Michael plays and has his feet set, he can shoot the ball," said coach Tom Sullivan.

"There's other areas of his game he has to work on, but we're confident when we put Michael in that he can bang home the three-pointer."

His scoring from the perimeter was needed. Sophomore guard Alhamisi Simms played only 11 minutes and was 1-for-4 from the field. His replacement, freshman Jason Womble, fared even worse, missing all seven attempts in 23 minutes.

Another highly regarded freshman, 6-6 forward Isaac Green, had a much better debut with 17 points and five rebounds. And sophomore Rodrick Harrison, a transfer from Catonsville Community College and the first Dunbar Poet to play at UMBC, started at point guard and scored 11 in 29 minutes.

"I think we played a good game," said Sullivan, whose team cut Loyola's lead to five with 4: 36 left.

"We made a lot of mistakes, though, and they were costly. I think we were exposed a few times on our youth. They pressed us and we didn't handle the pressure particularly well, and their half-court defense threw us out of our offense."

Loyola, which went ahead for good with 13: 50 remaining in the first half, also had a new starting point guard, Jason Rowe, who contributed 12 points.

Pub Date: 11/24/96

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