Loyola can't overcome slow start, finish against No. 1 seed Iona, 64-52

Runs of 13-0, 11-1 seal MAAC quarterfinal loss

March 04, 2001|By Dan Hickling | Dan Hickling,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Ninth-seeded Loyola faced a tough enough task yesterday at the HSBC Arena for its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference quarterfinal with top-seeded Iona.

A 13-0 hole from the start only made its job tougher.

And even though the Greyhounds wound up suffering a 64-52 defeat, they played hard.

Hard enough to shake off the effects of Iona's game-opening run. Hard enough to throw a real scare into the defending conference champions, when they cut the Gaels' advantage to just five early in the second half.

Hard enough to earn the respect of Iona coach Jeff Ruland.

"They shoot the basketball and they execute, and they give themselves a chance to win," said Ruland, who is thought to be a leading candidate for the vacant coaching job at Rhode Island. "Coach [Scott] Hicks has them going in the right direction."

The Greyhounds (6-23, 2-16 MAAC) showed plenty of poise and heart after nearly being flattened by Iona (20-10, 13-6) at the start.

"We competed very hard," Hicks said. "Sometimes, you just play better teams. But if you can look in the mirror and say you played as hard as you possibly could, I think you can get some satisfaction out of that."

The Gaels' Dyree Wilson and Earl Johnson combined for eight points early, as Iona opened the 13-point lead.

Meanwhile, the Greyhounds couldn't even get close to the basket, failing to score on their first nine trips down the court.

It wasn't the kind of start the Greyhounds had hoped for. It wasn't the kind of ending they'd hoped for, either.

"We definitely didn't want to get blown out," senior forward Brian Carroll said. "We had enough confidence in ourselves to know that we weren't going to quit. Even though the score was 13-0, in our minds, nobody was thinking that the game was over."

For Loyola, it was just beginning.

The Greyhounds managed to stop the bleeding and began chipping away at the lead. They cut it to 18-10 when point guard Damien Jenifer hit a jumper at the 10:15 mark, but Iona led 35-20 at halftime.

"We had to play a nearly perfect game," Hicks said. "That was a big hole to dig ourselves out of. If you took away the first few minutes, we played a pretty good ballgame."

The Greyhounds cut the margin to 37-32 with 14:46 to play after John Reimold lofted in back-to-back three-pointers from the left sideline.

"We thought we had a chance to win," Reimold said. "We didn't come here to lose. But, we played as hard as we could for the whole game and hoped for the best. When it got close, I really thought we had a chance."

But the Greyhounds' shots stopped falling, and Iona put together an 11-1 run that all but sealed Loyola's fate.

Carroll, winding up his Loyola career, blocked two shots to extend his school record to 208.

LOYOLA - Reimold 5-17 3-3 16, Davis 4-9 5-8 13, Jenifer 4-12 1-4 10, Carroll 4-8, 1-6 9, Nasiou 1-5 2-2 4, Southall 0-1 0-0 0, Mack 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-53 12-23 52. IONA - Wilson 7-12 4-6 18, Johnson 6-10 2-4 17, Miller 3-9 1-2 7, Jenkins 2-5 2-4 6, Norris 2-4 0-0 6, Fields 1-2 4-6 6, Wofford 1-3 1-2 4, Grant 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 22-48 14-24 64.

Half-Iona, 35-20. 3-point goals-Loyola 4-15 (Reimold 3-8, Jenifer 1-3, Davis 0-4), Iona 6-12 (Johnson 3-4, Norris 2-4, Wofford 1-3, Grant 0-1). Fouled out-Nasiou. Rebounds-Loyola 33 (Reimold 7), Iona 41 (Miller 9). Assists-Loyola 11 (Jenifer 4), Iona 14 (Johnson, Grant 4). Technical fouls-None. Total fouls-Loyola 22, Iona 18. A-3,744.

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