Free throws costly for Loyola in defeat

Greyhounds hit only 9 of 24, lose to Niagara, 65-60

College Basketball

February 05, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

It's hard to find a silver lining in this Loyola basketball cloud.

The Greyhounds not only played sloppy and uninspired basketball at times, but they hit rock bottom for the season at the free-throw line and dropped a 65-60 decision to Niagara in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game at Reitz Arena.

It was the eighth loss in the past nine games for a fast-fading Loyola team (6-14, 3-8) that seems ready to drop off the college basketball map without flashy senior point guard Jason Rowe, who has been dismissed from school for academic policy violations. The Greyhounds are 1-7 without Rowe and are desperately seeking an identity to help them avoid a total collapse over the final four weeks of the season.

"We want to play a slow tempo and pound the ball inside," said beleaguered Loyola coach Dino Gaudio. "We just don't have depth now to play an up-tempo game. Niagara wanted to run, and we wanted to slow it down. That's probably why the game looked a little ragged, but I thought our kids played hard. Another part of our identity has to be hard-nosed defensive play."

The Greyhounds were a disastrous 9-for-24 from the foul line last night, easily their worst effort of the season. It was an unbelievable 37.5 percent mark from the line, which was even far below the team's 48.9 shooting mark from the floor.

Gaudio has been preaching free throws all season, beginning in November, and still not seeing any improvement. The Greyhounds were shooting just 59.5 percent from the line entering last night, with a previous low of 44 percent against Mount St. Mary's.

"It doesn't take much of an effort to practice free throws," said Gaudio. "Just line up with a teammate and take turns shooting."

Once again last night, Loyola was right in this league duel with Niagara (12-7, 6-4) and surged ahead, 42-33, with 13 minutes, 6 seconds remaining on Blanchard Hurd's strong move inside. But a minute later Hurd missed two free throws and Damien Jenifer also missed back-to-back free throws 30 seconds later.

That gave Niagara a chance to take control of the game behind the three-point shooting of Demond Stewart and Daryl Greene, with Stewart's three-pointer pushing the Purple Eagles ahead, 52-49, with 5: 22 remaining. Hurd did regroup to hit two free throws with 5: 07 on the clock to cut the lead to 52-51, but the Greyhounds couldn't overtake the visitors down the stretch due to two costly turnovers and four missed free throws in the final 4: 38.

The one bright spot for Loyola was a career-high 18-point performance by Jerome Adams, but the Greyhounds turned the ball over 19 times. Jenifer had seven turnovers, and Adams had four.

Junior forward Brian Carroll continued his shot-blocking heroics with six, but the powerful 6-foot-8 standout took only one shot on a night when the team was trying to get the ball inside.

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