Loyola's first game in the CollegeInsider.com tournament required a substantial second-half comeback against Boston University.
Nothing of the sort was required in Sunday's second round.
The Greyhounds never trailed en route to a workmanlike 73-59 defeat of Kent State before 747 at Reitz Arena to clinch a spot in the CIT quarterfinals.
Erik Etherly had 27 points and 11 rebounds and Dylon Cormier added 18 points as Loyola (23-11) advanced to face East Carolina (20-12) in Greenville, N.C., on Tuesday.
"Last game was a struggle and [coach Jimmy Patsos] told us we dodged a bullet," said Cormier (Cardinal Gibbons). "We came back from a 15-point deficit and came back for a win and he said, 'Y'all want to try your luck like that again?' We put our heads together and said, 'Nah, we're not going to try to come back from 15 points.'"
The outburst from Etherly ensured the Greyhounds wouldn't need to rally this time around.
The senior found himself with plenty of room to operate around the basket, a rarity after nearly 20 conference games of dealing with familiar foes. Instead, he faced some one-and-one matchups and Loyola happily exploited them.
Etherly was 17 of 19 at the foul line during a physical contest that included a combined 49 fouls and 66 free throw attempts. Etherly's 17 free throws were the most for a Greyhound since Jamal Barney had a school-record 18 against NJIT in 2009.
"Getting to the line has always been his game," Patsos said. "I think not being scouted so much helped Erik. They weren't ready to double-team him every time. It was like, 'OK, it's Etherly,' whereas Fairfield and Iona were just running people at him. So he had got some room and he did some damage."
Etherly matched the second-best point total in his career in what could be his final home game at Loyola. His top scoring day was a 30-point performance against Manhattan in the Greyhounds' regular-season finale at home.
Unlike the Jaspers, Kent State wasn't nearly as accustomed to Etherly, who had his third double-double of the season.
"It's a lot easier when you don't have to try to score over four people at times," Etherly said.
Chris Evans and Randal Holt both scored 13 points for the Golden Flashes (21-14), who never got within two possessions of the Greyhounds after a pair of Anthony Winbush free throws in the first minute of the second half.
It was Winbush whose primary task was to keep Evans in check. The 6-foot-8 senior forward entered Sunday averaging 16.3 points, but shot 2 of 11 and scored just eight points in the first 37 minutes.
"Chris Evans is on NBA lists and Anthony Winbush just stopped another guy," Patsos said.
Cormier came off the bench for the first time all season, checking in after the first media timeout. Patsos said there was no issue with Cormier — "one incident; it wasn't big" — and the Greyhounds led 6-4 when he entered.
The junior made a layup and a 3-pointer on his first two shots, and Kent State would never again have the ball with the chance to even tie it again as Loyola advanced under far less trying circumstances than in its CIT opener.
"All us of knowing that we didn't have Dylon out there for at least the first couple minutes of the game really stepped everybody's level of play up," Etherly said. "Everybody knew, 'OK, we have to make up for not having one of our best scorers on the floor,' and I think everybody did a great job of doing it."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun