Loyola shares wealth in 96-81 win 5 score in double figures in opener against Howard

November 15, 1998|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

As strictly a two-man team a year ago, the Loyola Greyhounds managed just 12 wins and were a middle-of-the-pack bunch in their conference. As Loyola opened its 1998-99 season last night, it demonstrated to the home fans its new philosophy: share the basketball.

The end result was five players scoring in double figures as the Greyhounds opened the season with a 96-81 win over Howard before a crowd of 2,031 at Reitz Arena.

Loyola, which won't play again until next Thursday in the inaugural Battle of Baltimore, has to feel good about its starting point.

"We did a lot of things well and I was really pleased with our effort," said coach Dino Gaudio, starting his second season at Loyola. "Our players were very unselfish. We did a good job of sharing the ball on the offensive end."

Junior point guard Jason Rowe, a preseason all-MAAC first team pick, led the way with 22 points and eight assists.

And on a night on which 6-foot-10 senior center Roderick Platt didn't have a particularly strong game (13 points, 3-for-6 shooting from the field), there were others that picked up the offensive slack: forward Blanchard Hurd (Milford Mill) and reserve guard Jamal Hunter each scored 18 points. And Damien Jenifer, a freshman guard from Mervo, added 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field.

As a team, Loyola shot 62.3 percent, capitalizing on the 20 turnovers committed by Howard -- during a horrid, game-turning stretch in the second half, the Bison committed turnovers on five straight possessions).

The 96 points in the season-opener wasn't bad for a team that scored more than 91 just once last season.

"We could have reached the century mark and put the game away had we done a better job on the free-throw line," Gaudio said of the Greyhounds' 8-for-17 shooting (60.7 percent) from the line.

The poor free-throw shooting and several stretches in which Loyola got careless was the only reason why Howard, which trailed by 10 in the game's first five minutes, was within 51-49 early in the second half after a free throw by Garrett McCormick with 17: 42 remaining.

But the game for Howard was really lost just six seconds prior to McCormick's free throw, when senior swingman Melvin Watson picked up his third foul and went to the bench.

Watson had scored 20 points in the first half, singlehandedly keeping Howard in the game. He would finish with a game-high 29, but by the time he returned with 15: 15 left, the Bison trailed by 10 points -- and would never cut the lead to single digits.

As Watson and the Bison faded, Rowe was putting on a show. The 5-foot-10 guard, who scored 18.1 points last season, penetrated the lane at will. Several of his baskets were of a high degree of difficulty.

"It was a nice way to start the season, although defensively we gave up too many points," Rowe said. "When you have five guys scoring in double figures, it shots you just can't key on one players on this team. Anybody can explode."

The question now for the Greyhounds is whether last night's effort was the sign of a nicely balanced team that can score inside and outside, or was it the result of playing against an opponent that was simply overmatched.

Only time will tell, although Gaudio has some good feelings about this squad.

"We have players in this program that have the ability to take us to the [NCAA] tournament," Gaudio said.

"Last year, we were two-dimensional, with Jason and Mike [Powell]. Now, with Jason developing into an outstanding point guard, and our balance, we have a good mix."

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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