Loyola fights back for OT win over Niagara Platt, Powell, Rowe send 'Hounds to 85-80 victory and into MAAC semifinals

March 01, 1998|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

ALBANY, N.Y. -- With 17 minutes remaining in regulation, the Loyola men's team appeared to be in serious trouble in the quarterfinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament yesterday.

Center Roderick Platt -- the key man to counter Niagara's inside game -- was on the bench with four fouls, senior Mike Powell was not his usual self because of a sprained knee and the Purple Eagles were frothing at the idea of meeting little opposition around the basket for the next 10 minutes.

But perseverance proved a great ally for the Greyhounds, who fought back to beat Niagara, 85-80, in overtime and advanced to tonight's semifinals against top-seeded Iona.

Keeping Platt in the game until the finish was one major contributor to the outcome, which reversed two convincing regular-season defeats to the Purple Eagles (14-13).

"We're not that deep down low," said Powell, who played 44 minutes despite the injury. "So, we just had to battle through everything."

Loyola (12-15) also benefited from a five-second violation against Niagara's Jeremiah Johnson in the final two minutes of regulation and a foul-lane violation against Johnson after he tried to tie the game at 79 in overtime.

Powell's drive gave the Greyhounds the lead for good at 78-77, and Jason Rowe and Jamal Hunter combined to make five free throws to ice it.

"I needed a better game against Niagara," said Platt, who finished with 20 points on eight of 11 from the field and 10 rebounds. "I felt I left my team down when we played them earlier."

He re-entered with his team down by 52-47 and provided at least a token presence to counter the domination of the Purple Eagles' front line of Kevin Jobity (19 points, 10 rebounds), Jermaine Young (15 points) and Mike Piwerka (seven points, 13 rebounds).

"Basically, I just tried not to get any dumb fouls and keep my composure," said Platt. "I was in foul trouble against them before."

Powell was a step slower than usual and under wraps by Niagara coach Jack Armstrong's defense. The MAAC's top scorer did not score until 17 minutes had expired and had just five points at halftime.

"Coach Armstrong has a defense designed to stop me," said the senior, who was all-MAAC for the third time, but not the player of the year. "I knew that was going to happen."

Loyola hung in the game with some late pressure on Johnson at three-quarter court, which disrupted the Niagara offense just enough to keep the Greyhounds in position to win.

"Niagara does a great job of running sets," said Dino Gaudio, the Greyhounds' first-year coach. "We felt if we extended a little bit it might slow them down."

So, the Greyhounds weren't exactly overly cohesive and artful, but they did what they had to do and played with poise.

"We played intelligently with Rod going 14 minutes with four fouls. And Mike had three in the second half," said Gaudio.

Rowe was his usual mercurial self, topping all scorers with 21 points and making the offense click. Loyola made 15 of 28 field-goal attempts after halftime.

"It would have been tough going home and listening to all that stuff about losing to Niagara in the last game," said the Buffalo native.

Armstrong credited the Loyola defense. "They picked up their intensity to another level," he said. "They wore us down by the end of the game."

In tonight's semifinals, Loyola will meet Iona, a 76-55 winner over Marist. Tariq Kirksay had 21 points and 10 rebounds for Iona (25-5).

In quarterfinal games last night, Manattan beat Rider, 71-58, behind Brendan O'Brien's 19 points, and Siena defeated Canisius in overtime, 87-83.

LOYOLA -- Hunter 3-8 8-11 16, Carroll 3-8 2-4 8, Platt 8-11 4-5 20, Powell 5-13 4-8 16, Rowe 7-16 5-8 21, Blosser 0-0 0-0 0, Nasiou 2-2 0-0 4, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Schaefer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-58 23-36 85.

NIAGARA -- O'Connor 2-8 0-0 5, J. Young 7-10 1-1 15, Piwerka 2-6 3-4 7, Johnson 2-6 1-1 5, A. Young 3-14 2-4 9, Jobity 8-10 3-7 19, Bernosky 0-2 0-0 0, Dobrich 4-6 1-2 13, Waheed 2-4 2-2 7, McNamara 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-66 13-21 80.

Halftime--Niagara 33-30. End of regulation: 68-68. 3-point goals--Loyola 6-16 (Hunter 2-5, Rowe 2-5, Powell 2-6), Niagara 7-25 (Waheed 1-1, Dobrich 4-6, O'Connor 1-6, A. Young 1-6, Piwerka 0-1, Bernosky 0-1, Johnson 0-4). Fouled out--Carroll, J. Young. Rebounds--Loyola 33 (Platt 10), Niagara 46 (Piwerka 13). Assists--Loyola 8 (Hunter 5), Niagara 19 (Johnson 5, A. Young 5). Total fouls--Loyola 21, Niagara 29.

MAAC men's tournament

At Albany, N.Y.

Friday's first round

Manhattan 66, St. Peter's 55

Marist 74, Fairfield 73, OT

Yesterday's quarterfinals

Loyola 85, Niagara 80, OT

Iona 76, Marist 55

Manhattan 71, Rider 58

Siena 87, Canisius 83, OT

Today's semifinals

Loyola vs. Iona, 6 p.m.

Manhattan vs. Siena-Canisius winner, 8: 30 p.m.

Tomorrow's championship

Semifinal winners, 7: 30 p.m., ESPN

Pub Date: 3/01/98

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