Niagara again falls to Loyola women

No. 3 seed Greyhounds use late 15-3 run to earn spot in MAAC semis, 67-54

College Basketball

March 03, 2001|By Dan Hickling | Dan Hickling,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Loyola women play Niagara. The Loyola women beat Niagara. That's the way it's been for four years now.

The trend held true in yesterday's Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal clash, when the third-seeded Greyhounds basketball team relied on a 38-23 surge in the second half to oust the No. 6 Purple Eagles, 67-54.

The Greyhounds (19-9) will face their own nemesis, No. 2 seed Fairfield, this morning in a semifinal matchup. Fairfield has won six of the past seven meetings between the teams. "Obviously, we hope to reverse that," Loyola coach Cindy Anderson said.

Loyola has now beaten Niagara all but once in their past 12 meetings, including a sweep of all three of this season's games. The Greyhounds enjoyed a double-digit margin of victory in the first two games. This time, however, it was anything but easy.

The Greyhounds trailed 31-29 after 20 minutes of grind-out basketball, and led only 50-48 with less than seven minutes to play.

It was their 15-3 run late that made the final margin appear misleading.

"It was a battle," Anderson said. "There were a lot of shifts throughout. It all came down to who ever had the last run."

That turned out to be Loyola, thanks largely to center Katie Netherton. Netherton, who shared game-high scoring honors (18 points) with teammate Laura Slater, hit 12 points in the last 10 minutes. Netherton also neutralizing Niagara sharpshooter Amy Getman, who wound up with 16 very unnoticeable points.

"We were stepping up to the pressure," Netherton said. "It was a matter of whoever was going to lose, was out."

Loyola trailed 19-13 with 7:58 left in the half after Getman hit a three-pointer.

With the Eagles (10-18) effectively crowding the middle, Slater stood near the perimeter and became Loyola's best scoring option early.

"Every [shot] I got was pretty much there," Slater said. "They were collapsing in on the post, which kicked the ball out [to me]."

The rest of the Greyhounds got into the act. With five different players scoring, Loyola crafted a 12-3 point run - its best splurge of the half - that put them ahead 25-22 with less than four minutes remaining.

Amy Dessart Mager capped the spree when she sliced underneath the basket and laid in a feed from Shannon Cohen.

The lead changed hands three more times, with Loyola going ahead for good early in the second half.

Niagara did draw within 47-46 with 8:11 remaining. But the Greyhounds were able to put the game away. "I think our defense opened the game for us," Anderson said. "That led to some easy baskets."

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