Loyola holds on, improves to 3-0 with win over AU

Collins, Tuck build big lead, survive rally

Loyola 68, American 60


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 University before 2,100 last night.

The victory improved Loyola to 3-0 this season - the first time Loyola has opened the season with three straight victories since 1998-99.

Collins and Tuck both finished with 16 points and six rebounds, and Loyola needed both of their efforts. Tuck made seven of nine from the floor and Collins added six assists to spark the offense of a team that's improving with each game.

When coach Jimmy Patsos took over last season, the Greyhounds were mired in a losing streak from the previous season that stretched to 39 before they broke it in the sixth game.

Loyola won three in a row later and finished 6-22 despite playing in a number of close games.

Loyola controlled things throughout the first half of this game as American (0-4) got off to a sluggish start. The Greyhounds made their first three shots en route to a 9-0 lead, and later scored 16 of the half's final 21 points for a 44-24 bulge 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 and saw its lead begin to dwindle. Linas Lekavicius helped the American offense cut the lead to one four times in the final six minutes - but the Greyhounds answered each time.

Loyola made some crucial plays at the end. The Greyhounds hit five of six free throws to keep American at bay before Tuck came through.

Tuck caused a big turnover by knocking the ball out of Sekou Lewis" hands and off the forward with just under a minute left, and then banked in a jumper for a 64-58 lead with 27.7 seconds left.

Tuck then 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 one more rebound for good measure in the closing seconds.

Lekavicius, Derrick Mercer and Arvydas Eitutavicius all led Ameican with 14 points apiece.

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