If the Loyola men's basketball team wanted to make its last game before the holiday break a memorable one, the Greyhounds certainly got their wish Saturday night.
For Mount St. Mary's, it sure seemed like a night to forget.
Loyola, which will now be off for 13 days, used a stifling defense and controlled the boards to defeat the Mountaineers, 79-57, in a non-conference game at Reitz Arena.
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Reitz Arena, Loyola University Maryland, 4501 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21210, USA
Robert Olson led the Greyhounds (9-3) with a career-high 22 points, going 9-for-14 from the field, including 3-for-6 from behind the 3-point arc.
Kristijan Krajina led the Mount St. Mary's (4-4) with 14 points.
The win helps Loyola cut into its series deficit against the Mount. The Mountaineers now lead , 96-72. The schools have played for 103 years, making their rivalry the longest for both schools.
"It's Loyola and Mount St. Mary's," said Greyhounds coach Jim Patsos. "There's always a lot of passion and a lot of energy. We came out with great defensive intensity tonight. We were just hungry to play again in our own gym."
It tookthe Greyhounds a few minutes to solve the Mountaineers' man-to-man defense, but then Loyola's defense began to assert itself. Loyola held the Mount scoreless for two long stretches in the first half. The first was for 6:15 to run the score from 4-4 to 11-4, and the second was for 3:35 to run the margin from 18-9 to 33-9 late in the half.
Loyola held the Mountaineers to 24.1 percent shooting in the first half, while shooting 61.9 percent themselves.
The Greyhounds were benefitting from the return of Erik Etherly. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason player of the year had been sidelined for the past five games with a shoulder injury. Etherly wasted little time getting into the offense, scoring nine points in the first half and finishing with 16.
Mount St. Mary's played much better in the second half and cut its deficit to 14 points (at 57-43) with 9:51 left, but the Mountaineers got no closer.
Olson said he didn't realize that his 22 points were his career high. He just wanted to get back on the court after the Greyhounds lost their previous home game to Niagara.
"Being with [Patsos] for 10 days after a loss is not easy," Olson joked. "This was my last time playing a Maryland team, and I just wanted to take advantage of it. I just wanted to go out and have fun, and that's what I did tonight."
For the Mountaineers, the loss was another learning experience.
"We're at the point now where each game is a learning process," coach Jamion Christian said. "You either win or you learn. Was this the kind of game we wanted to play tonight? Well, no. Anytime you play a good team and you don't bring your 'A' game, this can happen."