NASHVILLE – Loyola University Maryland trailed by 11 with just over nine minutes to play, but a 13-0 run put the Greyhounds in front, and they held off host Tennessee State University for a 67-65 on Saturday night in Ramada Worldwide Bracketbuster action.
The Greyhounds (20-9) held the Tigers (16-14) to just four points in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Loyola’s win was the first defeat for the Tigers at the Gentry Center this season. Prior to Saturday night, Tennessee State was 10-0 in its home arena. Last year, the Tigers lost just one home game – to Murray State, a team that was ranked in the Top 15 at the time – and they were 20-1 since the beginning of 2011-2012 before the Greyhounds’ win.
The win was the Greyhounds 20th of the season, marking the first time in school Division I history that Loyola has won 20 games in back-to-back seasons. Loyola, which joined Division I in 1981-1982, finished with 24 victories a year ago for its first 20-win season at the Division I level.
Erik Etherly scored a team-high 26 points, and Dylon Cormier added 20, to lead the Greyhounds.
Loyola led just once during the first half when Dylon Cormier scored the Greyhounds’ first points with a layup and hit a free throw after being fouled to put Loyola ahead 3-2.
The Tigers, however, scored 13 of the next 15 points to take a 10-point advantage at the game’s first media timeout.
Loyola clawed back within four, 23-19, with 11:17 on the clock, but another Tennessee State run – this one 16-6 – gave the Tigers a 39-25 lead on a Kellen Thornton jumper with 6:30 to go before the break. The Greyhounds pulled back within seven shortly thereafter, but Tennessee State jumped ahead by 13 once more.
Franz Rassman pulled down a Cormier miss and laid it in just before the first-half buzzer to cut the lead to 49-38 at halftime.
Loyola shot 58.6-percent in the first-half, but the Tigers went 10-of-10 from the free-throw line, and the Greyhounds were just 3-of-8 at the stripe before the break.
Tennessee State went back up 13, 51-38, to start the second half, but a traditional 3-point play by Cormier started a 7-0 Loyola run that made cut the Tigers’ advantage to 53-47 on an Etherly jumper with 13:54 remaining.
The Tigers quickly pushed the lead back to double digits when Jordan Cyphers hit a three and Patrick Miller and Thornton knocked down jumpers. Thornton’s basket gave Tennessee State a 60-47 cushion with 11:12 left in regulation.
Miller converted a 3-point play after being fouled at 10:01, and the lead was 12, but Etherly made 1-of-2 at the line with 9:04 on the clock to make the score 63-52.
Rassman hit a pair of free throw for Loyola at 9:01, but Cyphers did the same for Tennessee State at 8:16, and the lead was back to 11.
Cyphers’ free throws were the last points Tennessee State would score for almost five minutes, however, as Loyola tallied 13 unanswered points.
Etherly completed a 3-point play with a layup and free throw, and less than a minute later, he hit 1-of-2 at the line. Anthony Winbush scored on a layup at 6:40, and Robert Olson canned a three with 6:09 to play.
Olson, who finished with seven points, scored again on a jumper at 4:24, tying the game at 65-65. A Robert Covington turnover led to a Cormier fast-break layup at 3:53, putting Loyola in front for the first time since there was 18:25 left in the first half.
Miller went to the line twice over the next minute, but he made just 1-of-2 both times, his second tying the game at 67-67 with 2:57 to play.
Neither Loyola, nor Tennessee State, could score for more than 2:40, but Cormier drew a foul on Deshawn Dockery with 11 ticks left, and he hit both free throws to provide the final margin.
Loyola held the Tigers to just 18 second-half points on 6-of-22 shooting.
R.J. Williams led Loyola with four assists, and Etherly had a team-best eight rebounds.
Miller scored 17 to lead Tennessee State, and Thornton had 15.