Loyola outmuscles Towson, then hangs on to win, 74-67

'Hounds' Rowe scores 25 in Battle of Balt. opener

November 20, 1999|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

In the aftermath of last night's 74-67 Loyola win over Towson in the opening game of the Battle of Baltimore, one might wonder what the Greyhounds couldn't do.

When Loyola wanted to make shots, it made half of them. When it wanted to run, it did, with a series of layups and dunks. When it wanted to push the Tigers around, it did, out-rebounding them, 38-32.

And when the Greyhounds needed to shut the Tigers down, they did that, too, not allowing a point for nearly five minutes during a critical stretch in the first half. Jason Rowe and Damien Jenifer -- who finished with 25 and 11 points, respectively -- each had two steals and helped start breaks that led to points.

"The defense will create offense for us," Loyola coach Dino Gaudio said. "That may have been the difference from an offensive perspective."

Loyola raised its streak in the made-for-TV event to three, having won the event last season by beating the Tigers in the championship game.

The Greyhounds are probably wary of drawing too many conclusions from last night's debut, however, because the glories of last season's tournament were long forgotten by the time March arrived with a 13-15 finish.

"That's a good basketball team," Towson coach Mike Jaskulski said of Loyola. "Could we have beaten them tonight? Absolutely but we didn't play well enough to beat a good team."

The game looked like it might be a blowout when it began. Rowe hit his first three three-point attempts as the Greyhounds took an 11-4 lead less than two minutes in.

Towson then moved Damon Cason off Rowe and guarded him with Marlin Wise instead. The game slowed down as Rowe did, and with a combined 19 points from Brian Barber and Torin Ragin, Towson took a 30-27 lead with 7: 24 in the first half. In response, Rowe made an adjustment of his own.

"Wise plays a bit more aggressively [than Cason]," Rowe said. "I wanted to drive and get more people involved."

So while Towson spent most of its time mired in a succession of one-shot-and-out possessions, the Greyhounds went on a 15-4 run. Five Loyola players scored during the spurt, which ended when Jerome Adams hit a three-pointer for a 42-34 halftime lead.

Needing a run to get back into contention, the Tigers made something of a feint, pulling to 46-40 on a drive by Cason. But Blanchard Hurd (13 points) and Jenifer combined for 13 points during a 15-5 run over 4: 52, ending with a Hurd layin that made the score 61-45 with 11: 29 left.

Still, with 22 seconds remaining, the Tigers had closed within five points on a three-pointer by Shaun Holtz, making the score 71-66. But two free throws by Rowe ended any Towson chance.

Holtz led the Tigers with 17 points. Barber had 16 and Ragin 11.

"Our guys stuck together," Barber said. "Everybody stayed positive and stayed in the game."

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