Loyola made eight of its first nine shots from the field to start the second half Wednesday night and were controlling the boards, but the Greyhounds still couldn't pull away from UMBC.
That's when Dylon Cormier gave Loyola a crucial spark. The freshman guard scored seven straight points in an 11-0 run, and the Greyhounds went on to defeat the host Retrievers, 83-72, at Reitz Arena.
UMBC (0-2) had rallied from a 10-point deficit to cut the Loyola lead to 60-57 with 10:22 left.
Cormier, who led Loyola (1-1) with 20 points, then made four straight free throws and hit a three-pointer — all in just 70 seconds. The Greyhounds' 11-0 run gave them a 71-57 lead and they weren't in trouble again.
Cormier finished 5-for-7 from the field and 9-for-10 at the line. He also added five rebounds and two assists.
"I thought that Dylon Cormier had a nice way about him," said Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos. "He didn't look like a freshman to me."
The Greyhounds bounced back from a slow start that saw the Retrievers jump to a 17-10 lead seven minutes into the game. Loyola took the lead late in the first half and held a 41-34 edge at the break.
But Cormier said the Greyhounds knew they couldn't let up.
"At halftime we came into the locker room, and we just talked about intensity," Cormier said. "I think we just came out with the mind-set that we're not going to be stopped. We came out intense, got our stops and finished the game with the win."
They also got plenty of balance on offense. Erik Ethlerly (16 points), Jamal Barney (14 points, 10 rebounds) and J'hared Hall (11 points) all scored in double figures.
Free throws proved crucial for Greyhounds throughout the game.
Loyola made its first 13 free throws to help keep the game close early. The Greyhounds kept driving, getting to the line and hitting free throws – they converted 29 of 35.
Loyola also held a 42-28 edge in rebounds. In addition, Patsos shook things up by putting on some full-court pressure after the Retrievers got in front early, but then dropping back into a zone. That slowed the Retrievers' drives to the basket.
Travis King helped the Retrievers stay close in the second half, scoring 14 of his game-high 22 points. Laurence Jolicoeur added 12 points and nine rebounds.
"I'm very disappointed in how we played tonight," said UMBC coach Randy Monroe. "You have to do the little things, and we just didn't do them tonight."