Loyola's Sereikas fouls up strategy by sinking clutch free throws, Navy


ANNAPOLIS -- Tom Schneider could just imagine what the Loyola diehards in the stands were saying about him. He called them "those 55-year-old guys in their Loyola sweaters."

What they doubtless were saying was this: Why doesn't Schneider get George Sereikas out of there? Doesn't he know the kid can't shoot free throws?

To be sure, Sereikas is not much of a threat at the foul line. The 6-foot-7 sophomore came into the game as a 40 percent free throw shooter this year and proceeded to miss seven of his first 10 last night against Navy.

But when it counted, when his team's once commanding 16-point lead had shriveled to four with 77 seconds remaining, Sereikas delivered. Aware of his deficiencies, the Middies kept fouling him intentionally.

But Sereikas holed four free throws in as many attempts during a 31-second span as Loyola held on to defeat Navy, 84-77, before 1,208 at Halsey Field House.

"George made four in a row when he had to," said Schneider, whose Greyhounds improved to 6-8. "I'm sure those 55-year-old guys in their Loyola sweaters could have killed me.

"But I've got a few more years left on my contract, so they'll have to learn to live with me. I'm going to leave the kid in."

The victory snapped a four-game losing streak and ended a stretch during which Loyola played 11 of its first 14 games on the road. Four of those away games were Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference engagements and all wound up as defeats.

Now the Greyhounds will entertain three-time defending MAAC champion LaSalle Thursday in their conference home opener. The game will feature the MAAC's leading scorer at 27.6, Doug Overton of LaSalle, and the No. 2, Loyola's Kevin Green (22.0).

"I was talking to some pro scouts, and they said Overton would go in the first round of the NBA draft," Schneider said.

A year ago, LaSalle and Loyola drew the largest crowd (3,253) in Greyhounds basketball history. The attraction was Lionel Simmons, now a starter for the NBA's Sacramento Kings, who that night led the Explorers to a 110-81 win. LaSalle has its other four starters back.

Tracy Bergan poured in a game-high 24 points last night and Green added 17 as the score swung like a pendulum. Navy got off to a 4-0 start, fell behind by 19 and then came back to lead at halftime, 39-37. The Middies (5-9) were down by 16 at one point in the second half and inched within four with a little over a minute left.

"We got a taste of the NBA with those point swings," Schneider said. "I don't know how those coaches take it night after night."

Navy shot a wretched 30 percent from the field after second-half shooting of 28 percent in Saturday's loss at William & Mary. The Middies were 5-for-31 from three-point range.

"We're in a two-game shooting slump," said Navy coach Pete Herrmann. "We've got to work on it and develop more confidence in our shooting at all five positions."

After starting the same lineup in the first 13 games, Herrmann led with Nick Marusich instead of Sam Cook at center and Lance Reinhard instead of Michael Burd at guard.

Herrmann got the rebounds (11) from Marusich that he wanted. But Reinhard, who scored a career-high 19 against North Carolina-Wilmington last week, produced only three points on 1-for-7 shooting. Burd was no better, coming off the bench with 2-for-11.

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