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Late defense lifts Hounds in PL tournament

By: Jenna Pizzi

Watching the game early on it would have been hard to really imagine the Loyola Greyhounds men’s basketball team earning a victory and advancing in the Patriot League tournament. The Lafayette Leopards shot 52.6-percent from the floor in the first half with many of their shots being wide open against a late-reacting Loyola defense. They were getting to the foul line with more ease, were hitting more 3-pointers and their defense was making it difficult for Loyola to get going.

But despite their struggles, the Hounds used superior rebounding and interior scoring to stay close, only trailed by five points at halftime and turned things around after the break. Lafayette went from shooting over 50-percent to 41.7-percent in the second half. Loyola went from making under 40-percent of their shots to making 48.3-percent of their attempts in the second half, continued attacking the rim, continues crashing the glass and came back to earn a 67-64 victory to keep their season alive.

Loyola did not allow Lafayette to score a single point for the final three-plus minutes of regulation. Meanwhile, Loyola made clutch free throws down the stretch, played great defense and came back for the victory.

Lafayette led the game for more than 32 minutes, but with 4:08 left on the clock the Greyhounds to a 62-61 lead when Andrew Kostecka hit a 3-pointer from the left corner. That was Loyola’s first lead of the game since All-Patriot League second team selection Jarred Jones hit the opening layup of the game for the Hounds.

After Jones’ layup, the Leopards were able to get take the lead in the game. James Fives did sink fro free throws to retie the game, but a jumper by Matt Klinewski and 3-pointer by Paulius Zalys put them ahead by multiple possessions.

Jones led Loyola with 21 points on 10-for-18 shooting while grabbing nine rebounds in the game. His interior effort kept Loyola alive and close to a hot-shooting Lafayette team. But in the second half both Cam Gregory and All-Patriot League first team selection Andre Walker picked things up to help the comeback effort. Walker scored nine of his 11 points in the second half while Gregory scored seven points and grabbed six rebound in the stanza. Gregory finished the game with an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double to also go with two blocks.

After Kostecka’s 3-pointer, Klinewski tied the game 23 seconds later in the second half with one of two made free throws. Fives them put Loyola back ahead by making the front-end of a two-shot trip to the line.

Lafayette was able to retake the lead after Eric Stafford drove from the left side and scored in the paint to make it a 64-63 game. But that lead didn’t last long and it would be the final points of the game for Lafayette. Just a few seconds after Stafford’s layup, Fives earned another trip to the foul line. He made both attempts, got Loyola ahead by one.

Then Loyola’s defense stood strong and kept Lafayette away from the rim and forced contested midrange jumpers or three’s that were not accurate enough. Loyola got possession of the ball with 92 seconds remaining and called a timeout.

Lafayette forced a turnover out of the timeout, but Chuck Champion was in excellent position to contest a layup by Nick Lindner. The attempt rolled off the rim, into the hands of Gregory and Loyola was able to wind down some clock. Though Chancellor Barnard’s shot was off the mark on the offensive end for Loyola, Champion made another stellar defensive play, cut off a drive to the rim by Lindner and forced an outlet pass to Zalys. His attempt from distance was not accurate and Champion was there for the rebound.

After drawing a foul, Champion stepped up to the foul line and made both attempts to put the Hounds ahead by three points with 9.7 seconds left.

Lafayette still had hope to tie the game, but Champions’ defense was big again. Lindner tried to go down the left side but after a double-shot fake got him some space he was off the mark and the Greyhounds clinched the victory.

Loyola earned their first Patriot League Championships win since joining the conference in 2013-14. They will play at second-seeded Boston University on Thursday, March 2 at 7 pm in the quarterfinals.

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Jenna Pizzi

Staff Writer
There has not been one moment in Jenna's life where she was not part of a team. From the age of single digits until high school, soccer became her center. Other sports were attempted, but nothing was as fulfilling as her defending the net or assisting a goal with a wide pass. During her high school days of soccer and track, she was a writer for the school newspaper, covering sports. High School was here her interest in basketball peaked, which is still a favorite of hers. In contrast, her father is a football fan, who watched each game religiously. Her inherited this trait from his mother, who is a Yankees fanatic. To continue the family passion, Jenna is currently a sports writer, both for The Greyhound at Loyola University of Maryland and now at So Much Sports.

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