Layup at buzzer ousts 'Hounds

Collins has 24, but Loyola falls in 1st round

Canisius 74 Loyola 72

Maac Men

March 04, 2006|By MICHAEL GEE | MICHAEL GEE,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Loyola's most successful season in 12 years ended the same way as many of its unsuccessful seasons did last night. Once again, the Greyhounds were first-round losers in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.

Guard Jon Popofski's driving, scoop layup as time expired gave ninth-seeded Canisius a 74-72 win and ended Loyola's season.

Despite having a foul to give, the sixth-seeded Greyhounds (15-13) allowed Canisius to take the ball the length of the court and get off the winning shot in only 3.2 seconds.

"I take full responsibility," said Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos. "I should have had my kids play zone. Of course you tell them, `Don't let them take the shot,' but [the players] had a lot of things in their minds."

Popofski (21 points) and fellow senior guard Kevin Downey (20 points) took turns making big plays for Canisius.

"They had two seniors, I had one," Patsos said, "and their two beat us."

Loyola's senior was star guard Andre Collins, who scored 24 points on an evening of almost unbearable mood swings.

First, he was stuck in a hotel elevator with Hassan Fofana and arrived at the Pepsi Arena less than an hour before tip-off. Then he was harassed into 3-for-9 shooting in the first half as the Golden Griffins made 13 of their first 17 shots and jumped to a 39-32 lead.

All that seemed irrelevant when Collins led a ferocious 22-6 Loyola run to open the second half, putting his team up 54-45 by making a four-point play off a three-pointer and a foul shot with 12:30 to play.

But Popofski and Downey kept Canisius hanging around. Downey tied the score at 70 with a three-pointer with 2:04 to play, and after Loyola's Shane James made two free throws, Downey made a running hook in the lane to tie the game again at 1:29.

Still, Loyola appeared to have matters in hand when a foul by Canisius' Darnell Wilson gave the Greyhounds possession with 37 seconds to play. There wasn't much doubt as to who would take their last shot.

"I had the best guy I know, the best in America, to take that last shot," Patsos said. "It just didn't go in."

Collins' jumper in the lane never had a chance. The rebound bounced around and into Popofski's hands, setting up the final drama.

Afterwards, Loyola's coach and star were proud as well as pained.

"Fifteen wins was a great accomplishment," Patsos said. "And it all starts and ends with Andre."

Collins, a transfer from Maryland, said: "Coach gave me a chance, and I got to prove myself. It's been a great four years."

CANISIUS-Wilson 5-5 2-2 12, Harris 0-3 0-0 0, Downey 9-14 0-0 20, Young 4-7 0-1 10, Popofski 7-11 3-5 21, Matti 1-2 2-2 4, Wackerly 1-3 0-0 2, Byrd 2-4 1-1 5. Totals 29-49 8-11 74. LOYOLA-Fofana 2-4 0-2 4, Alujevic 2-2 0-0 4, Collins 9-19 1-1 24, Sullivan 3-5 0-0 9, Farrell 5-7 1-1 11, Stanback 0-0 0-0 0, Manning 0-1 0-0 0, James 3-6 3-4 10, Tuck 3-6 4-4 10. Totals 27-50 9-12 72. Half-Canisius 39-32. 3-point goals-Canisius 8-17 (Popofski 4-6, Downey 2-4, Young 2-4, Harris 0-1, Wackerly 0-2), Loyola 9-21 (Collins 5-12, Sullivan 3-5, James 1-2, Tuck 0-1, Manning 0-1). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Canisius 20 (Harris 5), Loyola 26 (Tuck 7). Assists-Canisius 14 (Harris 6), Loyola 15 (Collins, Sullivan 4). Total fouls-Canisius 11, Loyola 10. A-3,141.

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