Loyola Maryland's first-ever game in the Patriot League featured a smattering of fans inside, an abundance of snowflakes outside and an overwhelming showing of offensive futility.
Still, despite putting themselves in a seemingly insurmountable hole against Navy, the host Greyhounds rallied behind standout guard Dylon Cormier (Cardinal Gibbons), who scored six of his game-high 20 points in overtime, as Loyola survived for a 63-57 win before an announced 536 at Reitz Arena.
After failing to make a field goal at one point for a span of 18:34 — nearly an entire half's worth of play — Loyola rallied from a 13-point deficit with 5:16 left in regulation by shooting 12-for-22 from the field and forcing 16 turnovers in the second half.
“We've had a hard time getting started out of the gate, and tonight was nothing different,” Cormier said. “So in the second half, we just figured we'd put our best effort together and see how things fall into place.”
How poor was Loyola's offensive effort? The Midshipmen held Loyola scoreless for a span of 10:11 in the first half, keeping the Greyhounds without a field goal for the final 13:02 of the half. The Greyhounds finally broke through 5:31 into the second half, when guard R.J. Williams (St. Frances) converted a steal for an easy layup on back-to-back possessions.
“To come out against a team like this, Patriot League first game… we gave a very poor effort the first 20 minutes of the game. It was embarrassing,” Loyola coach G.G. Smith said. “But the game is 40 minutes, and I thought a couple guys stepped up in the second half.”
The win broke a four-game losing streak for Loyola (6-6, 1-0 Patriot League), and sent Navy (5-7, 0-1) to its fourth straight loss. As well as the Midshipmen played at times, their lack of a playmaker down the stretch proved costly.
They were playing their second straight game without starting point guard Tilman Dunbar, who has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of unspecified academy rules.
“We came down to the end of the game and we weren't able to make the plays we wanted to to win,” said guard Thurgood Wynn, who led Navy with 15 points. “We're kind of disappointed, as far as that goes.”
Trailing 47-34 following Wynn's 3-pointer, Loyola began its rally, pulling to within 10 on Jarred Jones' (John Carroll) three-point play. Moments later, the Greyhounds cut it to five when Williams also scored a layup and completed a three-point play.
When Jones (nine points) sank a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left, the game was tied at 52, and would soon need overtime.
There, Cormier made all four of his free throws, and reserve guard Denzel Brito hit his first 3-pointer since Dec. 2 to give the Greyhounds a 61-56 lead.
Loyola sealed the win when Jones blocked Zach Fong's 3-pointer and drew a desperation foul with six seconds left.