Loyola 75, Niagara 63
How Loyola Won: Keys to victory for Greyhounds heading into this one would have been: control Anthony Nelson's scoring effectiveness and maximize their height advantage. Loyola did both, winning the boards, 46-39, and keeping Nelson to 16 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Turning Point: Niagara was within three early in second half when Loyola struck for three straight field goals, two of them by point guard Brian Rudolph. The Purple Eagles were held an arm's length away the rest of the night.
Player of the Game: Loyola sophomore forward Erik Etherly has all the makings of a dominant MAAC force the next two seasons. He went off for a career-high 19 points, grabbed seven boards, played great defense. He's hit double figures in points for nine straight games.
Stat of the Game: Greyhounds gave Niagara no room for comfort outside the arc, resulting in a 1-for-15 performance from three-point land. The Purple Eagles went 3 for 28 from long range in the two-game season series.
Stat of the Game II: Nelson came up with all five of Niagara's steals, which should solidfy his status as the nation's leader. He came in averaging 3.3 a game. He now owns the school single-season record with 92, having eclipsed by one the standard set by Tyrone Lewis.
Reversal of Fortune: Loyola had lost nine straight to Niagara and hadn't won in the Gallagher Center since 1997.
Sole Possession: Nelson entered tie with Alvin Cruz as the school's career assist leader. He snapped the deadlock with a feed to Kashief Edwards midway through the first half and finished with five for 635.
In the House: They should have hung a "Gone South" sign in the student section. Break hit and but a handful of the end zone loonies remained. Total crowd: 1,296.
Next Up: The MAAC regular season concludes Sunday with Niagara entertaining Manhattan and Loyola moving down the road to Canisius. It's Nelson final game at Taps. How those four years flew by.
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedCollege basketball | Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference | Niagara