Loyola makes a charge, but falls

Agonizing, 78-77 loss to Niagara ends season

February 28, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- This was a tough one to take.

Bent backward but unbowed, Loyola's men looked opportunity in the face yesterday in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament, but couldn't capitalize.

The Greyhounds rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final 14 minutes and had a chance to tie second-seeded Niagara and force overtime, but the clock expired on them as they dropped a heart-wrenching, 78-77 decision at Marine Midland Arena.

Niagara (17-11) moved into today's noon semifinal against St. Peter's, while an enigmatic Loyola team returned home with a season record of 13-15.

"It hurts. I know we're a much better team than the record shows," said Greyhounds point guard Jason Rowe, who scored 25 points, but missed a three-point try from the corner that could have prolonged the game.

Brian Carroll followed up the shot with a tip-in that closed the gap to one, but Loyola had no more timeouts left and the buzzer sounded.

"I personally feel like I let my team down by not making some of those shots," said Rowe of the final few minutes when Loyola repeatedly refused to wilt. "But it's a great feeling when everyone in the gym knows who's going to get it for the last one and it's you. Unfortunately, it didn't go in."

The first half was more troublesome for the Greyhounds, who lost to Niagara for the third time. The Purple Eagles' quick guards, Alvin Young and Jeremiah Johnson, were primarily responsible for 13 Loyola turnovers in the first 20 minutes; Niagara converted 17 points off them to take a 40-35 halftime edge.

While Loyola played a lot of box-and-one defense to contain Young, the nation's leading scorer, Johnson scored 22 first-half points.

"He scored a lot of points off turnovers," said Loyola coach Dino Gaudio. "That and our free-throw shooting [23 of 35 in the game] were the two factors that really hurt us."

Loyola tried to exploit an advantage at the inside positions, but didn't fare well there, either. The Greyhounds' second- and third-leading scorers, Roderick Platt and Blanchard Hurd, were limited to seven points each.

In the second half, Young warmed up offensively and finished with 23 points, including a huge drive to a layup with a minute to go after the Greyhounds had cut the deficit to 74-73.

LOYOLA -- Carroll 4-5 4-5 12, Hurd 2-7 3-8 7, Platt 2-4 3-4 7, Walker 3-10 1-2 9, Rowe 8-17 7-10 25, Nasiou 0-1 0-0 0, Strong 3-8 5-6 11, Blosser 2-4 0-0 6. Totals 24-56 23-35 77.

NIAGARA -- Edwards 2-9 3-4 9, Amponsah 1-1 1-2 3, Piwerka 1-4 2-2 5, Young 9-19 4-5 23, Johnson 9-17 6-9 26, Bernosky 2-4 0-0 5, Strobl 0-0 1-2 1, Waheed 0-1 1-2 1, Greene 2-4 0-0 5, Dobrich 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-60 18-26 78.

Halftime--Niagara 40-35. 3-point goals--L 6-21 (Walker 2-9, Rowe 2-8, Blosser 2-4); N 8-31 (Edwards 2-7, Piwerka 1-3, Young 1-8, Johnson 2-7, Bernosky 1-2, Waheed 0-1, Greene 1-2, Dobrich 0-1). Fouled out--Blosser. Rebounds--L 46 (Carroll 11); N 31 (Piwerka 6). Assists--L 11 (Rowe 6); N 12 (Young 5). Total fouls--L 19; N 23. A--6,168.

Pub Date: 2/28/99

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