BALTIMORE - Jamion Christian didn't know where to turn. His Mount St. Mary's team ran into a much more tested opponent and a much more experienced coach.
Just before tipoff, Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos turned to someone in the crowd, scrawled "Merry Xmas" on his whiteboard, smiled and waved. Patsos' Greyhounds won't play for 13 days.
Mount St. Mary's hardly played at all on Saturday night.
After not playing in eight days due to finals, the Mount came up empty in Christian's first meeting with Loyola. MSM lost 79-57 before 1,636 at Reitz Arena.
"We'll learn from our mistakes, and it won't happen again," Christian said. "Any time you go out and play a very good basketball team, this can happen to you."
What happened? A game that was over within minutes.
The first half was a travesty for the Mount (4-4), shooting just 24 percent, being held to five points in 13 minutes as Loyola (9-3) took a 33-9 lead with five minutes to play.
Every December, there's lots of talk about the great rivalry between the schools, but for now, it's clear the Greyhounds are the far superior team. Last year's MAAC conference champs, Loyola has won three straight in the series that the Mount leads 96-72.
"Loyola obviously has a special meaning to Mount St. Mary's," Christian said. "It means a ton. It means a ton to our kids. We weren't able to start the rivalry out with a better effort. ... Next year at this time, I'm sure we'll be more prepared."
Twice in the first half, MSM played great defense and forced a Greyhound to throw up a shot with zero on the shot clock. Both went in.
MSM was in the penalty barely six minutes into the game and had 15 fouls in the first half as they trailed 40-18 at halftime. Loyola shot 62 percent from the field.
Patsos loves to talk about the passion in this series. He senses something is different with the Mount.
"That program has changed. Their energy is back. They played hard. They didn't make shots. We got lucky," Patsos said. "They are heading in the right direction. They've got good players. They are going to contend for the title in the NEC."
Christian kept the team in the locker room until about two minutes remained before the second half.
Kristijan Krajina, who fouled twice in the game's first two minutes and took a seat, returned to start the second half and kept the Mount somewhat competitive by hitting three quick baskets to cut the lead to 40-24. Krajina finished with 14, but missed his four free throws. The Mount missed 12 of its 17 foul shots.
"We just came out flat in the first half," Krajina said.
Sam Prescott had 12 and Julian Norfleet 11 for Mount St. Mary's. Rashad Whack missed 11 of 12 from the floor.
"I don't think we did a good job sticking to the game plan," Norfleet said. "We were very selfish tonight. That's where we went wrong."
Robert Olson had a career-high 22 points for Loyola.
MSM, which had won its previous three, never got closer than 57-43 midway through the second half. Every time, the Mount had a semblance of a run, another foul, another three-point play.
On four straight scoring plays, Loyola was fouled, and soon the lead was back to 22.
The Greyhounds went to the line 31 times.
"It's an area we've been working a ton on - not fouling," Christian said. "We just didn't carry it over tonight."
While Loyola is off, the Mount has a terrific task on Wednesday when they play at Indiana. By then, the Hoosiers won't be ranked No. 1 since they lost on Saturday to Butler in overtime.
"We're looking forward to playing in a great environment. It's not very often you get to play in a place like Indiana," Christian said.