Loyola stuns Siena in MAAC semifinals Greyhounds eliminate top-seeded Saints, 58-50

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

ALBANY, N.Y. -- During the summary of her team's quarterfinal victory Friday night, Loyola coach Pat Coyle summarized Siena, her upcoming opponent, as having the best coach, the best player and the best point guard in the league.

But the top-seeded Saints weren't the best team yesterday at the Pepsi Arena, and they didn't go marching into the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship.

Loyola captured that distinction, holding Siena without a field goal for more than 12 second-half minutes en route to a 58-50 upset and its fourth MAAC title-game appearance in six years under Coyle.

The Greyhounds' foe at noon today will be second-seeded Fairfield (19-9), which dominated St. Peter's, 64-51, in the other semifinal game.

Siena had set an arena record for a tourney game with 98 points against Rider in the quarterfinals, but never really got its attack on track against Loyola's hounding defense.

Melanie Halker, the MAAC Player of the Year, scored 17 points, but required 20 shots and wasn't an overwhelming force. The Saints hit 35.3 percent from the field.

"I think they were a little frustrated, " said Loyola forward Erica Rath, who amassed 18 points and nine rebounds. "We knew what they wanted to do."

"I thought if we kept it in the low 50s, we had a chance to win," said Coyle. "At 3 o'clock in the morning, that looked like a good number."

She was referring to Friday, when Loyola played until almost midnight while eliminating Iona to close a six-game program.

The Greyhounds showed no ill effects of that late finish despite a sluggish first half by both teams that included six more turnovers (23) than field goals (17).

Siena (20-8) started on fire in the second half, overriding a 24-21 deficit with a 10-4 run capped by Colleen Herden's turnaround jumper.

By the time Loyola allowed another field goal, it had a 47-36 advantage, with Corey Hewitt hitting a key three-pointer and Mary Anne Kirsch scoring on a follow shot to climax the spree.

The gritty defense was the key.

"We didn't know if it was 2 o'clock or 7," said Greyhounds forward-guard Jina Mosley. "We just went out and played. We said we were going to get a stop every time and came out and did it a lot."

Siena could get no closer than five the rest of the way after the major drought and thus again was denied its first trip to the NCAA tournament despite setting a MAAC regular-season record with 16 league wins.

Coyle has an 11-2 record on this floor and two MAAC titles.

"Siena reminds us a lot of us," she said. "Of all the teams, I think we match up well with them, and I think we did a good job of preparation. We understood what they wanted to run."

Loyola scored 22 points off 22 Saints turnovers and shot 44 percent from the field. "We had some good looks but didn't take advantage of some of the second chances we had," said Siena coach Gina Castelli, the MAAC Coach of the Year.

Siena had won both regular-season meetings, one in overtime, the other by three points.

LOYOLA -- Rath 8-15 2-2 18, Bongard 2-8 0-0 4, Kirsch 6-9 2-4 14, Hewitt 2-4 3-6 8, Mosley 4-11 3-6 11, Keeney 0-2 2-2 2, Cohen 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 22-50 13-22 58.

SIENA COLLEGE -- McLoughlin 2-5 0-0 5, Halker 8-20 1-3 17, Herden 4-7 4-6 12, Boland 2-11 4-4 8, Hollar 1-4 3-4 6, Tobin 0-1 0-0 0, Baker 0-1 0-0 0, Miklic 1-2 0-0 1. Totals 18-51 12-17 50.

Halftime--Loyola 24-21. 3-point goals--L 1-4 (Rath 0-1, Bongard 0-2, Hewitt 1-1), SC 2-7(McLoughlin 1-3, Boland 0-1, Hollar 1-3). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--L 32 (Rath, Mosley 9), SC 37 (Herden 14). Assists--L 15 (Bongard 4), SC 16 (Boland 8). Total fouls--L 16, SC 19. A--n/a

Pub Date: 3/01/98

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