Loyola holds on, improves to 3-0

Learning to win, 'Hounds ride Collins, Tuck

Loyola 68, American 60

College Basketball

November 30, 2005|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A near-victory or just one win was cause for major celebration at Loyola last season. But the times are changing rather quickly at Reitz Arena.

Loyola guard Andre Collins helped carry the offense early, and forward Michael Tuck came through late as the Greyhounds nearly blew a 23-point second-half lead and hung on for a 68-60 victory over American before 2,100 last night.

The victory improved Loyola to 3-0 -- the first time Loyola has opened with three straight victories since 1998-99. Collins and Tuck each finished with 16 points and six rebounds, and Loyola needed both of their efforts. Tuck was 7-for-9 from the floor and Collins added six assists. Coach Jimmy Patsos has said his team is learning to win -- and this was another lesson.

"To pull out a win against these guys is great for us," Patsos said. "If we're going to grow, you've got to win these."

Tuck sat out last year but said things have changed "600 percent" from his freshman season two years ago. The Greyhounds had trouble holding on to second-half leads last year, but that's changing as they had to hang on late in Sunday's win over UMBC.

"We're slowly learning how to win," Tuck said. "It's a new thing for the school and the team, and I'm loving it."

When Patsos took over last year, the Greyhounds were mired in a losing streak that stretched to 39 before they broke it in the sixth game. Loyola won three in a row later and finished 6-22.

But the Greyhounds are winning this year. Loyola controlled the first half last night and rolled to a 44-24 lead at the break.

Collins seemingly had a hand in everything. He ran the offense, made slick passes and hit several different types of shots, including a three-pointer that gave the Greyhounds a 47-24 lead in the first minute of the second half.

But Loyola suddenly went cold after that. Linas Lekavicius (all 14 points in the second half) helped the American offense cut the lead to one four times in the final six minutes -- but the Greyhounds answered each time.

Loyola hit five of six free throws before Tuck came through. Tuck caused a big turnover by knocking the ball out of Sekou Lewis' hands with a minute left, and then banked in a jumper for a 64-58 lead with 27.7 seconds left.

Tuck grabbed the rebound after Travis Lay missed a free throw with 18.3 seconds left and got fouled. The forward sealed the victory with two free throws and added a rebound for good measure in the closing seconds.

Along with Lekavicius, Derrick Mercer and Arvydas Eitutavicius had 14 points apiece for American (0-4).

"It was embarrassing what happened in the first half," said American coach Jeff Jones, who like Patsos comes from the Atlantic Coast Conference. "But you have to give them credit. They've bought into [Patsos'] style and emotion."

AMERICAN -- Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Billbe 3-8 0-0 6, Mercer 6-9 0-0 14, Ingram 2-9 0-0 6, Eitutavicius 5-12 2-2 14, Carr 0-2 0-0 0, Gilmore 1-4 0-0 2, Lay 2-3 0-1 4, Lekavicius 6-10 2-2 14, Nichols 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-57 4-5 60. LOYOLA -- Alujevic 4-9 0-1 8, Tuck 7-9 2-2 16, Collins 6-18 2-2 16, Stanback 3-7 1-1 9, James 0-3 2-2 2, Hinds 4-6 1-2 9, Sullivan 0-2 0-0 0, Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Farrell 3-3 2-2 8. Totals 27-57 10-12 68. Halftime--Loyola, 44-24. 3-point goals--American 6-20 (Mercer 2-3, Ingram 2-6, Eitutavicius 2-6, Gilmore 0-1, Lekavicius 0-2, Carr 0-2), Loyola 4-18 (Stanback 2-4, Collins 2-10, Tuck 0-1, Sullivan 0-1, Alujevic 0-2). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--American 36 (Billbe, Ingram, Lekavicius 5), Loyola 28 (Alujevic 8). Assists--American 14 (Mercer 4), Loyola 18 (Collins 6). Total fouls--American 15, Loyola 14. A--2,100.

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