Niagara shuts down struggling Loyola, 65-42

'Hounds hit scoring low, lose 16th in past 17 games

February 14, 2002|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Loyola had a painfully rough start to last night's game against Niagara, with forward Donovan Thomas picking up a technical less than a minute in and the Greyhounds going the first 7:07 without a field goal.

For coach Scott Hicks, the conclusion was equally troubling.

After battling back to trail by six early in the second half, Loyola allowed 17 straight points in a 65-42 loss at Reitz Arena.

It was the lowest point total this season for the Greyhounds (3-21 overall 2-13 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference), who lost their fourth straight and 16th in 17 games. They are off to their second-worst start since beginning play in Division I, and have dropped four of their past 10 games by at least 23 points.

"We dug ourselves a hole," said Hicks, adding that his team was hurt by Niagara's press. "We had to keep our most competent ballhandlers and passers in there ... and eventually that wore us down."

Center Irakli Nijaradze scored nine points to lead Loyola, which shot under 30 percent for the game.

Niagara (14-12, 10-5), which has won six of seven, allowed its fewest points in a game since the 1985-86 season.

"We were hoping for our defense to create some offense for us, and I think it did," Niagara coach Joe Mihalich. "We're playing some good defense, and it sounds like a cliche, but defense wins games."

After trailing by as many as 15 early, the Greyhounds, starting a freshman and three sophomores, regrouped and got as close as 33-27 after Damien Jenifer's layup four minutes into the second half.

The next six minutes, however, erased any thoughts of a comeback.

Paced by a pair of three-pointers by Daryl Greene (13 points), a 6-foot-1 guard out of DeMatha, the Purple Eagles went on a 17-0 run to extend their lead to 50-27 with just over 10 minutes left.

"We just felt like it was time for us to dig down," said Greene, the MAAC's Player of the Week last week. "We knew they were a good team and capable of making a run. Our defense got us back into it and we finally started making shots."

Greene's family and friends from Largo made up a sizable portion of the 311 in attendance. They had plenty to cheer about.

Niagara controlled the early minutes of the first half, breaking out to a 23-8 lead after the first 11:47.

Led by forward James Reaves and guards Greene and Alvin Cruz, the Purple Eagles consistently worked the ball for high-percentage shots, then used pressure defense at the other end to hold Loyola to just one field goal in its first eight attempts.

Leading, 12-6, Niagara quickly shot in front by 15 with a pair of steals and layups, two follow-ups in the lane and a three-pointer by David Brooks.

NIAGARA-Cohen 1-1 0-0 2, Reaves 4-8 2-6 10, Greene 4-10 2-2 13, Darden 1-7 2-4 4, Cruz 4-7 1-2 10, Villafane 1-1 0-0 2, Schmidt 2-5 1-2 6, Leino 0-0 2-2 2, Brooks 2-5 1-2 6, Mendez 2-4 2-2 6, Wet 1-1 0-0 2, Carron 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 23-52 13-22 65. LOYOLA-Thomas 3-9 2-5 8, Nijaradze 2-3 5-6 9, Jordan 3-10 2-2 8, Jenifer 3-9 0--0 7, Davis 2-9 1-2 5, Chatman 0-2 0-0 0, Allen 1-2 0-0 3, Dickey 0-1 0-0 0, Corrigan 0-0 0-2 0, Koch 0-1 0-0 0, Southall 0-0 1-2 1, Chivers 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 14-47 12-21 42. Halftime-Niagara, 31-23. 3-point goals-Niagara 6-17 (Greene 3-6, Cruz 1-2, Brooks 1-2, Schmidt 1-3, Carron 0-1, Darden 0-3); Loyola 2-17 (Allen 1-1, Jenifer 1-3, Chatman 0-1, Southall 0-1, Jordan 0-4). Fouled out-none. Rebounds-Niagara 40 (Mendez 10); Loyola 28 (Jordan 7). Assists-Niagara 13 (Reaves, Greene, Schmidt 2); Loyola 9 (Jenifer 3). Total fouls-Niagara 20; Loyola 15. A-311.

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