1st Battle is captured by Loyola MVP Rowe directs 'Hounds past Towson in title game, 76-67

Tigers hurt by 21 turnovers

Morgan drops UMBC in consolation, 57-56

November 22, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

In the first Battle of Baltimore, a first-rate performance by guard Jason Rowe was enough to get Loyola over the top.

Rowe scored a team-high 21 points and rallied the Greyhounds past Towson, 76-67, last night in the championship game of the tournament before 2,020 at the Towson Center.

Rowe sparked a 12-2 run that put Loyola up 61-60 with 5: 27 left and added four free throws down the stretch to clinch the win.

"That's what the Battle of Baltimore is all about," said Rowe, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. "Every team came out hard, and, fortunately, we came out on top."

In so doing, the Greyhounds ran to their first 3-0 start since 1986-87 and won their first in-season tournament championship since 1991-92.

"It wasn't a work of art," Loyola coach Dino Gaudio said, "but we found a way to win, and that's what great teams do."

In the consolation game, Rasheed Sparks hit two free throws and made a key steal to give Morgan State a 57-56 win over UMBC.

The Tigers, who held the Greyhounds to 38 percent shooting in the first half, yielded 58 percent shooting in the second. The team also didn't help itself by committing 21 turnovers, its third straight 20-plus turnover game of the season.

"We were playing well enough defensively," Towson coach Mike Jaskulski said. "But we were giving then opportunities because we were giving them the ball. That is the most critical issue for us as a team right now."

Said Gaudio: "We thought we were the quicker team and we thought that we could press them. Our defense created our offense, especially in the second half, and that made the difference."

Indicative of a series in which 13 of the past 15 games have been decided by 10 points or less, Towson and Loyola played each other tight in the first half. Rowe's three-point attempt at the buzzer missed, sending both teams into the locker room tied at 30.

Though two free throws by Josh Davalli gave the Tigers a 12-6 lead with 14: 48 left, Loyola evened up by holding Towson without a field goal for nearly seven minutes.

Meanwhile, the Greyhounds scored eight unanswered points at one juncture, taking an 18-15 lead on Damien Jenifer's three-pointer with 8: 51 left.

In the last few minutes before halftime, the Tigers cooled Loyola off, and a three-pointer by Pete Mauro, immediately followed by a steal and lay-in by Zenou, gave Towson a 28-27 lead with 53 seconds left.

Half a minute later, Mauro fouled Ryan Blosser in the act of hitting a jumper. The three-point play gave Loyola a 30-28 lead, negated when Zenou hit two free throws with 13.4 seconds left.

This back-and-fourth trend continued in the second half, as the Tigers and Greyhounds tied or exchanged the lead seven times during the first seven minutes.

But for a five-minute span, at least, Towson regrouped and Damon Cason found Mauro cutting toward the basket for a layin that gave the Tigers a 46-45 lead with 13: 19 left in the game.

Towson seemed to outhustle Loyola. In one instance, the smaller Towson team battled inside to get four shots on one possession before Brian Barber was fouled by the Greyhounds' Brian Carroll.

Barber made both free throws, and made another basket inside with 11: 05 remaining to give the Tigers a 53-47 lead.

Blosser immediately hit a three-pointer to bring that lead down to three, but Loyola couldn't seem to get over the hump. The deficit was five at 60-55 on a Barber dunk with 6: 43 left when the Greyhounds awakened.

"We showed that we can play hard and can play with the other teams around town," Towson's Davalli said. "Let's build for the future and move on."

In the consolation, Sparks hit two free throws with 13 seconds remaining to put Morgan State ahead of UMBC.

Then, with UMBC point guard Terence Ward dribbling the ball upcourt with a chance to win, Sparks stole the ball and passed the ball to teammate Jimmy Fields as time expired.

Though Sparks led his team with 15 points, his defense also helped the Bears overcome a late nine-point deficit.

"This young man really exerted himself on defense and he showed great leadership on defense," Morgan State coach Chris Fuller said of Sparks, who finished with four rebounds and three steals. "I was pleased to see Rasheed talking and leading on defense."

UMBC, powered by Nick Grella's game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds, took a 56-47 lead with 4: 23 left on Grella's layin. From there, however, the Retrievers -- who finished with 27 turnovers -- succumbed to a mix of their mental errors and Morgan State's defense.

After Sparks' three-pointer with 2: 40 left brought the Bears to within six at 56-50, the Retrievers committed a 10-second violation.

That led to a three-pointer by Jason Demory to make the score 56-53 with 1: 47 remaining, followed by Demory pressuring UMBC's Tim Hyland into a five-second violation.

Seconds later, Jeric Lewis tipped in a Sparks miss with 1: 14 left, trimming the margin to one, then Grella traveled at the 40.9-second mark, giving the Bears an opportunity it would cash in.

The Retrievers, meanwhile, would leave smarting over chances wasted.

Pub Date: 11/22/98

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