Loyola holds off Fairfield to gain semis

Loyola 76 Fairfield 72

March 04, 2007|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Reporter

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Gerald Brown ran into a picket fence of defenders.

Marquis Sullivan got Loyola back in it with his three-point shooting, but was denied the ball in the last nine minutes.

That left it up to Josko Alujevic to rescue the Greyhounds in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference quarterfinals last night, as the senior forward from Croatia had the go-ahead three-pointer and four clutch free throws in a 76-72 win over tournament host Fairfield.

"I'm so happy for Josko," coach Jimmy Patsos said.

The third-seeded Greyhounds will meet Niagara in a MAAC semifinal tonight (8 p.m.) at the Arena at Harbor Yard, their first appearance in that round since 1998. Loyola (18-12) has already set a record for wins in their Division I era, and can get to 19 for the first time since 1971.

Some of Loyola's best wins this season have come away from Reitz Arena, and it came up big last night against sixth-seeded Fairfield, the only MAAC opponent that swept the Greyhounds during the regular season.

Brown had 20 points, despite a 21-minute drought without a basket, when Fairfield mixed up its defenses and roughed him up with Mike Van Schaick and other bodies. Sullivan had 16 and Alujevic had 14 and a team-high five rebounds.

The Greyhounds trailed by seven with 13 minutes left, but their full-court pressure began to pay some dividends and Sullivan's three-point shooting kept them in it until Brown got back into the flow.

The all-MAAC first-team pick fed Alujevic for a three that got the Greyhounds their first lead of the second half with 3:28 left, and followed with one of his own a minute later to put them up 71-64.

Fairfield (13-19) rallied and had a Van Schaick three to go ahead with 45 seconds left, but Alujevic twice grabbed defensive rebounds, was fouled and drained free throws, in the bonus, no less.

"It feels great, amazing," Alujevic said. "That's my first tournament win after five years in this thing. That [three] was the biggest shot of my life."

As is usually the case, Patsos was at the center of the action, as he got a technical with 17:48 left. A minute later, Shane James fouled Anthony Johnson hard from behind, players had to be separated and the coaches were brought together to make the peace.

All Patsos and Fairfield coach Ed Cooley did was exchange harsh words.

Van Schaick scored 20 of 24 points in the second half.

The Greyhounds ended the first half with considerably more energy than they showed at the 10 p.m. tip-off, as Patsos yanked Brett Harvey, Alujevic, Isreal and even reserve Michael Tuck before the game was in its fourth minute. At one point, they trailed by eight.

Just three seasons removed from a one-win season that led to the hiring of Patsos, the Greyhounds are seeking their first MAAC final since 1994, when they gained their lone NCAA berth.

paul.mcmullen@baltsun.com

FAIRFIELD-A.Johnson 5-10 3-6 13, Nero 5-9 4-6 15, D.Johnson 3-3 0-1 6, Han 2-4 2-3 6, Van Schaick 8-16 5-5 24, O'Sullivan 0-1 0-0 0, Allen 2-5 0-0 6, Buchbinder 0-0 0-0 0, Diakhate 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 26-51 14-21 72. LOYOLA-Isreal 4-4 4-4 13, Alujevic 4-7 4-4 14, Brown 6-16 6-10 20, Harvey 2-6 2-2 7, Sullivan 6-12 0-0 16, Manning 0-0 0-0 0, James 2-2 0-0 4, Fofana 1-2 0-0 2, Tuck 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-49 16-20 76. Half-Loyola, 34-33. 3-point goals-Fairfield 6-14 (Van Schaick 3-9, Allen 2-3, Nero 1-1, Han 0-1), Loyola 10-22 (Sullivan 4-9, Alujevic 2-2, Brown 2-6, Isreal 1-1, Harvey 1-4). Fouled out-Nero. Rebounds-Fairfield 25 (Van Schaick 7), Loyola 29 (Alujevic 5). Assists-Fairfield 14 (Han, Van Schaick 5), Loyola 15 (Brown, Harvey 4). Total fouls-Fairfield 19, Loyola 15. A-N/A.

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