Loyola stops skid just like in practice

Down by 11, 'Hounds rally to win on late basket, 57-55

February 14, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

A plan came together for the Loyola men's basketball team yesterday. The result was Damien Jenifer's full-court drive for a last-second lay-in that gave the Greyhounds a 57-55 victory over St. Peters at Reitz Arena, ending a six-game losing streak.

All season in practice, Loyola coach Dino Gaudio had worked on situations like the one his team found itself in with 13.7 seconds remaining -- tied at 55 after St. Peter's guard Andre Wisniewski missed the back end of two free throws, the rebound going to Blanchard Hurd.

If things went right, Jenifer -- a Mervo graduate who finished with a game-high 16 points -- would get the ball from Hurd and dash for the basket. That's what happened.

"We wanted to attack them in transition, and Damien did a great job of doing that," Gaudio said.

With the option of pulling back, Jenifer realized that there was no help for his defender, Wisniewski, so he cruised by on the left side and shot-putted the ball off the glass and in with 4.4 seconds left.

When Ricky Bellinger's 18-foot jumper bounced off the rim, the Greyhounds (7-16, 4-10 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) had held the Peacocks (5-18, 2-12) without a field goal in the last 5: 21. They had also overcome a 11-point second-half deficit to beat the team that could have pushed them into last place in the MAAC.

St. Peter's, which beat Loyola, 84-72, in Jersey City, N.J., on Jan. 8, came into the game in 10th place in the conference, which is where the Greyhounds would have been seeded for the league tournament if they'd lost.

"It was a very big win, with the way we've been struggling, and staying with it and not giving up," Jenifer said. "Coach just told us to keep fighting and we'd eventually start knocking down some shots."

But Loyola hit one field goal in the game's first seven minutes. and St. Peter's had an 11-3 lead after Keith Sellers' basket at 13: 33.

Despite the slow start -- and an eventual 11-point deficit -- the Greyhounds were trailing 33-26 at halftime.

"When we saw that [score], we knew that we could beat them," said Anthony Walker, who had 11 points, as did freshman Donovan Thomas. "We weren't playing that good in the first half."

St. Peter's led 47-37 with 11: 59 left after a basket by Rodney Rodgers. Loyola, which shot 50 percent in the second half, responded with three three-pointers -- the first two by Walker, the third by Brant Mack -- that closed to 50-46 with 8: 40 left.

Sellers and Bellinger scored the Peacocks' last baskets of the game, giving the team a 54-48 lead with 5: 21 left.

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