In a game that very well could be a preview of next year’s Patriot League Championship game, Loyola University used a strong second half performance by Junior guard Dylan Cormier–16 points and some key 3 pointers by Senior sharpshooter Robert Olson to overcome a 47-32 Boston University lead with 15:32 left in the game. The Greyhounds were able to pull away with a 70-63 victory in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.Com tournament.
Next year both Loyola and Boston University will join the Patriot League. It’s a league that should allow both teams to go in with fairly high preseason rankings. But before that, the Greyhounds will host a second round game on Sunday against a yet to be determined opponent.
Loyola trailed by 13 points in the first half before cutting the Terriers lead to six points, 33-27 at the break. “I told coach at halftime, we’re going to win,” said Eric Etherly. Etherly did a very good imitation of Jimmy Patsos’s gravelly voice saying the coach responded with “I don’t know how, but OK,” recalled Etherly laughing.
A very emotional Patsos said afterward, “I’m just so glad I get to keep coaching these guys. These guys—motioning to all three–Dylon came here on blind faith, we had two losing seasons in a row and I was in big trouble. Now we’re in the postseason two years in a row, becasue Dylon decided to come here, because Eric decided to transfer here. I’m really glad for these guys that it gets to continue”
For most of the first half and a good portion of the second half, it appeared it was Boston University coach Joe Jones who would get to keep coaching his guys. The Terriers opened the second half just like they opened the game, blitzing the Greyhounds with a transition game that Loyola couldn’t seem to catch up with, and opened two 15 point leads in the second half.
“If you’re going to play fast, you’re going to go down 8 to 10, you can’t panic. Look, we couldn’t have played any worse, it took us a while to get going, but the game was a good game,” explained Patsos on falling behind so quickly. Olson was hot and cold from beyond the arc. At one point in the first half he hit three 3-pointers in just over a minute to cut the Boston U lead from 26-13 to 29-22.
Olson then missed his next five shots, before getting his first bucket of his second half on a 3 pointer with 15:19 left in the game. That began a final run of 38-16 for the Greyhounds to close it out. Olson finished 5-11 on 3’s to tie Cormier with a team high of 16 points.
The Greyhounds shot 52% in the second half compared to a 38% effort in the first half. Boston after hitting 9 of its first 13 shots in the 2nd half, only made 3 of its last 12 attempts. Led by Olsons threes Loyola hit 10 of 20 from beyond the arc compared to 5 of 19 for the Terriers.
Another area that Loyola improved on in the second half was taking care of the ball. The Greyhounds turned it over 12 times in first half, leading to 12 Boston points. Loyola only committed four second half turnovers allowing just two Terrier points from those in the 2nd half.
“We had trouble with their zone said Etherly. They played man to man all season and they came out in a zone, and it kind of threw us. But we’ve struggled against the zone all season, so I’m not surprised we saw it.”
Patsos said his players weren’t ready to quit. “You know, a kid from Baltimore, a kid from Georgetown Prep and a kid from Norhern Virginia. I get really frustrated but they won’t let me quit. They say we’re from DC and Baltimore, the Ravens won it and theywon’t let you quit. Because I wasn’t sure we had it in us. I said, Dylon their wearing your jersey in the stands and you’ve got no points. He just said, ok I got you, I got you.”
So because of Cormier having his coaches back and the team not letting Patsos quit, he gets to coach them another game. This tournament while not the NCAA Tournament, is important to the players. In addition to being the first post season win in the history of Loyola, it was the first post season game ever played on campus. Etherly explained how what it means to the players, “It’s big. You know last year we went to the NCAA’s and that was great. But you’re going to get matched up against an number 2 seed or someone like Ohio State or Duke and unless you play perfect it’s tough to beat those guys. So playing in a tournament like this, you get a realistic chance to keep playing. I know for me and Bobby, we want to keep playing as long as possible. We were upset at not getting in the NCAA, but we knew by getting in this tournament that we had a chance to extend our season for another couple weeks.”
Patsos will be pleased, that he gets to coach another game, because a kid from DC, a kid from Georgetown Prep and a kid from Northern Virginia wouldn’t let him quit.