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Empty possessions cost Loyola first place

By: Pat Terwedo

Whether with the ball in his hands of playing off ball Dylon Cormier has proven he is one of the premier players in the MAAC but his Hounds missed 44 shots in their game against Iona.

Whether with the ball in his hands of playing off ball Dylon Cormier has proven he is one of the premier players in the MAAC but his Hounds missed 44 shots in their game against Iona.

Baltimore, Md. — Not even at the midway point of the first half it was clear the Loyola men’s basketball team would be in for a long day against the Iona Gaels as they fell behind by 11 points but while they battled back the Hounds lost a battle for first place, 79-71.

“For 40 minutes they (Iona) were a more emotional team than we were,” said Loyola Head Coach Jimmy Patsos. “College basketball is an emotional game. We were playing at home for first place and we never dove on the ball today. We were playing for first place and we didn’t want to dive on the floor.”

While Loyola shot a respectable 38.9-percent from the floor and had 18 assists, seven of which came from R.J. Williams as he set a new career-high, an 8-for-18 performance from the free throw line doomed the Hounds as the Gaels shot 48.1-percent from the floor and went 20-for-25 from the charity stripe. Lamont “Momo” Jones scored a game-high 23 points as he helped Iona avenge their loss to Loyola last season in Baltimore.

Iona kept the Greyhounds off balance offensively throughout the contest as they caused a lot of empty possession with their 2-3 zone. Loyola took 72 shots in the game but missed 44 of their attempts. Meanwhile, Iona, which went to the NCAA tournament last season on the back of an incredibly fast-paced offense, was much more patient with their shots, taking only 54 in the game.

Along with Jones’ impressive outing Sean Armand scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists before fouling out late in the game while Tre Bowman and David Laury helped out the well-rounded offense with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Things improved marginally for the Greyhounds in the second half as they shot 41-percent from the field and managed to slow Iona’s attack slightly but they were never able to make it a one-possession game.

“Without naming named I have a couple of guys who don’t buy into the concept that it’s us versus them,” Patsos said. “We’re playing good against certain teams but against the upper, upper echelon teams we aren’t [winning] because we aren’t all in this together.”

With five minutes remaining in the game and Loyola trailing by 11-points, Iona’s Armand fouled out of the game and it appeared to give Loyola a second breathe as Robert Olson sunk two three’s and Dylon Cormier stole the ball and got a fast-break layup to make it a five-point game with two minutes remaining but over the next minute and a half Iona regained a 10 points lead and were able to ice the game.

Cormier led the Greyhounds with 18 points to go with seven rebounds while Olson scored 14 points. Jordan Latham had 11 points. Erik Etherly had a decent line with eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists but struggled with a 3-for-12 effort from the floor.

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