Rowe sparks Loyola over Niagara Freshman guard's 23 points lead way to 77-68 victory

February 17, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

The head coaches of Loyola and Niagara were both seeking new point guards to direct their offenses this season.

Loyola coach Brian Ellerbe landed Jason Rowe, who hails from Buffalo, a long jump shot from the Niagara campus, while Jack Armstrong went to Houston to recruit Calvin Murphy Jr., son of the Hall of Fame and Niagara basketball legend.

Yesterday at Reitz Arena, Armstrong must have been thinking what might have been if the playmakers had switched places.

Rowe, arguably the best point guard in Maryland, scored 23 points, had seven assists and made a career-high five steals in leading the Greyhounds to a 77-68 victory over Niagara (9-15, 4-8) in a regionally televised Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference contest.

By winning for the eighth time in its past 11 games, Loyola (10-13, 7-4) moved to within a half-game of third-place St. Peter's in the MAAC race. The Greyhounds will play host to St. Peter's in their regular-season conference final Friday night after a road trip to Siena tomorrow.

But the Greyhounds are peaking at the right time, and Rowe, their freshman floor leader, is one of the principal reasons.

"Coming out of high school, I got recruited by all the area schools, especially Canisius and the University of Buffalo," Rowe said, "but I was determined to go out of state."

Said Armstrong, "I never thought I had a chance to get him. Rowe made his intentions known early, and we had to look elsewhere."

The last time the teams played, Loyola needed a double overtime and a career-high 36 points from junior guard Mike Powell to whip Niagara, 93-86.

Armstrong double-teamed Powell whenever he touched the ball yesterday. He was limited to three shots and eight points while still nursing a sprained right wrist.

But the Purple Eagles could not control Rowe or senior forward Anthony Smith, who was near perfect, converting 12 of 14 field-goal attempts. He scored 25. Smith also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and blocked two shots.

"Anthony was fabulous today on both ends of the floor," Ellerbe said. "He's been consistent all season. It's amazing to me that he has never been named MAAC player of the week."

Smith scored 16 in the first half and Rowe scored 13 in staking Loyola to a 44-37 lead.

Niagara, led by senior forward Chris Watson (19 points), trailed 48-43 early in the second half. But Rowe then began stealing the ball and converting the Eagles' turnovers into layups for himself or dunks by Smith.

With eight minutes remaining, the lead ballooned to 63-49, and the Greyhounds were not threatened again.

Tormented by Loyola's aggressive zone, Niagara made only a handful of outside shots in shooting 13-for-33 in the second half.

And no one struggled more than Murphy, who bears a strong physical resemblance to his father. Murphy made only one of nine shots, missing all six of his three-point efforts.

"He's a typical freshman," Armstrong said. "One game he looks good, the next one he really struggles."

NIAGARA -- O'Connor 4-7 0-0 10, Murphy 1-9 1-2 3, Watson 7-8 5-14 19, Beamer 1-3 0-0 2, Jobity 3-5 0-0 6, Young 2-3 0-0 4, Bernosky 3-6 2-2 9, Johnson 4-13 6-8 15, McNamara 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-55 14-26 68.

LOYOLA -- Powell 1-3 6-6 8, Rowe 7-13 7-11 23, Platt 3-4 3-4 9, Smith 12-14 1-2 25, Cooper 1-5 0-0 2, Kelly 3-8 2-4 8, Williams 0-3 2-4 2, Harris 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-51 21-31 77.

Halftime--Loyola 44-37. 3-point goals--Niagara 4-21 (O'Connor 2-5, Murphy 0-6, Beamer 0-2, Bernosky 1-3, Johnson 1-5). Loyola 2-10 (Powell 0-1, Rowe 2-7, Kelly 0-1, Williams 0-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Niagara 30 (Jobity 6), Loyola 34 (Smith 8). Assists--Niagara 15 (Murphy 5), Loyola 19 (Rowe 7). Total fouls--Niagara 21, Loyola 18. A--1,130.

Pub Date: 2/17/97

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