Loyola's fall hits bottom, 83-69

Greyhounds' season ends in loss to 8th seed Canisius, their 15th in 17 games

Metro Atlantic men

March 04, 2000|By Tim Reynolds | Tim Reynolds,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ALBANY, N.Y. -- They obviously weren't ready for the uniforms to be put away, but the Loyola men's basketball team can take solace now that a frustrating roller-coaster ride of a season is over.

The Greyhounds' season ended last night with an 83-69 loss to Canisius in the first round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. Loyola, which finished the regular season in ninth place for the second consecutive year, lost 15 of its final 17 games and closed with a 7-21 record.

"I'm not glad that I have to stop playing basketball," said sophomore guard Damien Jenifer, who finished with 19 points to share game-high scoring honors with teammate Donovan Thomas. "But the team is really frustrated by how many bad things happened to us this year."

The never-ending run of bad luck started during preseason workouts, when key reserve Ryan Blosser quit the team. Four games into the season, sophomore forward Clifford Strong blew out a knee and was gone for the season.

And the kicker to it all, of course, was Jason Rowe's dismissal from the school because of academic reasons. Loyola was 2-12 without Rowe, the MAAC's Preseason Player of the Year.

"This is all part of the education process," said Loyola coach Dino Gaudio, whose club was picked to finish third in the MAAC in the league's preseason coaches poll. "We have absolutely no excuses, but we went through a lot of adversity this year."

Yesterday's game was a microcosm of the season for the Greyhounds. It didn't take long for things to get bad, and they only got worse.

Loyola trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half, and went into the locker room trailing 37-22, thanks in large part to a 23.1 percent shooting effort. Canisius shot 50 percent in the first 20 minutes.

"We had a little bit of nerves," Jenifer said. "And they didn't miss too many shots. We tried to come back, but had dug ourselves too big a hole."

Loyola outscored Canisius by 11 points over the final 10 minutes, but that placed nary a dent in what was once a 25-point lead for the eighth-seeded Golden Griffins (10-19), who play top-seeded Siena in today's quarterfinals.

"Start to finish, that's as good as we've executed all season," said Canisius coach Mike MacDonald.

Brian Carroll had a game-high 11 rebounds for the Greyhounds.

"To be honest, I felt good coming into the game," Gaudio said. "But we fell so far behind so early and we were never in the basketball game after that."

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