Loyola fades away against Iona, 74-56

18-4 second-half run deals 'Hounds 7th loss in 8 games

February 17, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

With a little more than eight minutes left in the game last night, Loyola's sophomore point guard Damien Jenifer drove to the foul line, started to make a move and simply lost the ball out of bounds with no one contesting him.

Talk about total frustration for Jenifer and the Greyhounds in a season long since gone bad.

"It's been that way the whole year for us," sophomore guard Anthony Walker said moments after streaking Iona had handed fading Loyola a 74-56 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference loss at Reitz Arena.

"It's hard to believe all the things that have happened to us," said Walker, who has started setting his sights on the conference tournament in Albany, N.Y., in two weeks. "We need to keep working hard and picking it up in hopes of something good happening up there."

Iona, coached by former Washington Bullets standout Jeff Ruland, wanted to run last night. Walker and the Greyhounds wanted to walk the ball up court and use as much of the 35-second clock as possible.

Loyola got the slow tempo it wanted in the first half and jumped out to a 16-9 lead eight and a half minutes into the game. Walker hit back-to-back three-pointers to spark the early surge, and he finished the first half 3-for-3 beyond the arc to keep the Greyhounds close at halftime, trailing 32-31.

But a strange thing happened to Walker in the second half. He turned cold from long range, 0-for-3 on three-pointers, and the rest of the Loyola team went south with him.

Iona (15-9, 11-4 MAAC) quickly took advantage of Loyola's woes, getting its fast-breaking offense in high gear. The visitors raced off to a 55-35 lead with 12: 02 left.

The Gaels were nearly perfect during the game-deciding, 18-4 run out of the locker room on the way to their ninth straight victory, which left them 1 1/2 games behind first-place Siena (12-2) in the MAAC. For Loyola (4-11, 7-17), the seventh loss in eight games left coach Dino Gaudio still searching for some kind of magnetism to take into the MAAC tournament.

"I've tried everything to get us started," Gaudio said. "Tonight, I showed the team clips of our upset victory over Iona here two years ago, when we ended their 15-game winning streak. And then I sent them out on the court.

"We had things going the way we wanted, but we missed too many layups near the end of the first half, when we could have been up by 10 instead of down by one. That hurt."

Ruland said that he "yelled" at his players at halftime to get them inspired for the downtrodden Greyhounds. "I didn't yell," Ruland said. "I just asked for more effort, and we got it in the second half."

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