Loyola men's basketball coach Jimmy Patsos minced no words when leading scorer Dylon Cormier was shut out in the first half Tuesday against Boston University.
"I said 'Dylon, they're wearing your jersey [in the stands] and you have no points,'" Patsos said. "He said 'I got it.'"
Did he ever.
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Reitz Arena, Loyola University Maryland, 4501 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21210, USA
Cormier scored all 16 of his points in the last 11 minutes as the Greyhounds rallied past Boston University, 70-63, before an announced 984 at Reitz Arena in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Robert Olson added 16 points for Loyola (22-11), which erased a 15-point deficit in the second half. It was the Greyhounds' first postseason victory, as well as the first postseason home game in school history.
It won't be the last, either.
Loyola will host a round of 16 game Sunday at 3 p.m. Because the CIT is an unbracketed tournament, the Greyhounds' next opponent will not be determined until after Wednesday's games.
"Unless you have a great game and play perfect, you're going to get matched up against Ohio State or Duke, any of those 2 seeds," forward Erik Etherly said. "It's tough to beat those teams. Playing in a tournament like this where you get a realistic chance to continue playing, we want to keep playing as long as possible. We were upset we didn't make the NCAA, but we knew by getting in this tournament we had a chance to extend our season for another couple weeks."
Playing even once more was in doubt much of the night.
The Greyhounds struggled as the Terriers (17-13) floated into a 2-3 zone and swarmed Etherly whenever he touched the ball. Boston University, playing for the first time since Feb. 28, constructed a 21-8 lead before the Greyhounds closed within 33-27 at halftime.
It was a particularly difficult stretch for Cormier (Cardinal Gibbons), who missed his first five shots against Loyola's future conference foe; both teams are joining the Patriot League next season.
"I just tried not to panic," Cormier said. "Coach was just telling me how bad I'm playing. You really don't want to hear that. It's easy to say you block things out, but it was getting to me. I just had to calm down and not think about anything and go out in the second half and just start over like it was a brand new day."
Cormier's first basket was a 3-pointer with 10:58 to play and got the Greyhounds within single digits. It ignited a 29-7 run, during which Cormier made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:16 left.
Thanks largely to Cormier and Olson, Loyola was 6-of-9 on 3-pointers in the second half.
"D.C. and Baltimore kids, they're different because they don't like to lose; George Mason made their run [in 2006] with local kids," Patsos said before choking up. "I'm lucky. I get to coach these guys. Sometimes, I get really frustrated and they won't let me go and they won't let me quit."
For Cormier, who to Patsos' delight and relief agreed to come to Loyola when the Greyhounds were coming off consecutive losing seasons and were far from a certainty to ever sniff the postseason, that wasn't an option even during Tuesday's early sluggishness.
"Jimmy was getting on me, but it's all love with him," Cormier said. "He was just telling the truth. Sometimes you don't want to hear the truth, but I had to hear it. He told me if I wanted to respond, go respond. I thought I did a good of doing that in the second half."