Freshman delivers for Loyola Hunter's career-high 26 help beat Canisius, 91-76

January 24, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Loyola College freshman guard Jamal Hunter burst on to the '' local collegiate basketball scene last night with a once-in-a-lifetime performance that was just what the Greyhounds needed to pull them out of a three-game losing streak.

Hunter wasn't just on fire offensively as he rolled up a season and career-high 26 points in a 91-76 victory over Canisius in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game at Reitz Arena. He was also outstanding in every phase of the game except free-throw shooting.

In a 20-minute stretch off the bench, the 6-foot-5 player from Rocky Hill, Conn., hit 4 of 5 three-pointers, made 10 of 13 overall from the field and had three steals and two assists.

He obliterated his previous collegiate high of 17 and said, "It's about time I played like this. Hopefully I'll be doing this the rest of the season."

Loyola coach Dino Gaudio said he wasn't surprised much by the sudden emergence of Hunter.

"I've known all along that Jamal had the talent to do this offensively," said Gaudio. "And tonight he played some defense for us."

Hunter had struggled defensively most of the season, preventing him from getting more minutes and building confidence.

Though Hunter was the star of the show, three other Greyhounds, led by 6-foot-10 junior center Roderick Platt, had career scoring highs in what Gaudio called "our best game of the season."

Loyola has been needing stronger inside play out of Platt all season. Last night, he had career highs of 19 points and five assists, and he easily led all rebounders with 13.

Joining Hunter and Platt with the top offensive games of their careers were 6-4 freshman guard Ryan Blosser (13 points) and 6-7 freshman forward Apostolis Nasiou (10 points).

They were all part of Loyola's best shooting effort from the field this season (59.0 percent) and top shooting half of the season (70.4 in the second 20 minutes).

The Greyhounds (7-11, 5-5 in the MAAC) also got 36 points off the bench, the most in that category in the 1997-98 campaign.

It all came on a night when Loyola's one-two punch of Mike Powell and Jason Rowe had subpar games.

Powell entered the night as the third-leading scorer in the nation with a 25.2 mark but tied his season low with 13 points.

Rowe came into the game against Canisius (9-7, 5-3) eighth in the country in steals (3.5) and averaging 17.7 points. But the sophomore point guard was held to six points and three steals. He did have a game-high eight assists.

However, Powell and Rowe seemed happier than ever last night as they received the much-needed help from Platt, Hunter, Blosser and Nasiou they will need to win the MAAC tournament title.

"We needed a big win like this," said Hunter. "Our guys have been a little down lately and we have to bounce back strong right now."

The 76-point total by Canisius was the lowest in five years for the Golden Griffins in MAAC play.

Pub Date: 1/24/98

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