Loyola (Md) 89, Niagara 87 (2OT)
How Loyola Won: Give the Greyhounds a ton of credit for this one. They were down three after their leading scorer and emotional leader (Robert Olson, 23 points) fouled out with 7:27 remaining. How'd they rebound and persevere? By putting six players in double figures and producing textbook execution of a long inbounds play with 2.9 seconds left in the second OT. The results have shown the MAAC's top four of five teams are evenly matched. It should make for an interesting conference tournament.
Player of the Game: Loyola's Anthony Winbush (13 points, game-high 13 rebounds) made two clutch free throws near the end of regulation and was dead-on target with the long inbounds pass to Erik Etherly that set up the decisive Julius Brooks basket.
Player of the Game (Losing Effort): Antoine Mason, the MAAC's second-leading scorer, was 7 of 15 from the field and matched teammate Juan'ya Green for team-high scoring honors with 23 points. Green hit a huge three at the end of the first overtime but this wasn't his best: six turnovers against just five assists.
Best Supporting Role: Olson, Loyola's 6-6 senior guard, averaged 25 points in his final two-game swing through Western New York. He's a tough matchup for the Purple Eagles. Heck, he's a tough matchup for anybody.
Stat Check: Niagara went for 20 offensive rebounds for the second straight game and won the boards, 51-40.
Stat Check II: When dissecting Niagara's defeat consider that the Purple Eagles went just 22 of 35 from the foul line.
Worrisome: Mason finished out the game with a limp after being injured in a collision. He said he'll be fine but he was walking gingerly after the game.
Enough Already: A Niagara player was T'd up for jawing at the officials for the second stright game. This time it was Devon White (it was his fifth and disqualifying foul and came with 16:08 left). Thursday it was Ameen Tanksley.
Trending: This is the second straight split of the season series with each winning in the other's building.
Speechless: Jimmy Patsos, the always demonstrative and gregarious Loyola coach, bolted across the court to hug AD Jim Paquette in celebration and then hightailed it for the airport. What's the hurry? He has a Super Bowl ticket.
Anxiety Attack: Six of Niagara's 12 conference games have been decided by four points or less. This was the first loss.
What It Means: Is Niagara sending Canisius a Thank You note? The ramifications of this defeat were tempered when the Griffs' knocked off Iona Saturday night. As a result, Niagara retains its two-game advantage in the conference race with six games remaining. Loyola moved into a three-way tie for second with Canisius and Iona.
In the House: Attendance dropped to 1,481 and the student section was sparsely populated. I get the desire to sleep in, but this was a 3 p.m. start.
Next Up: Niagara makes the dreaded road trip to Rider Thursday before returning home next Sunday afternoon for the rematch with Canisius. Loyola is home to Siena Friday night.
They Said It
Niagara coach Joe Mihalich: "I got to defend our guys a little bit maybe. We talk about playing the same way all the time but coming off those two wins we had against Canisius and Iona, to keep the emotion going, we didn’t do what we needed to do in the first half."
Loyola's Julius Brooks: "We already had a chip on our shoulder so we were ready to come out."
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedCollege basketball | Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference | Niagara