The shooting of Richard Rhinehart put No. 11 Towson Catholic in the driver's seat in the opening half, and the inside brilliance of James Burrell chauffeured the Owls home past No. 6 Loyola, 74-66, yesterday.
Rhinehart scored 24 of his game-high 29 points in the first half on 11-for-14 shooting as host Towson Catholic built a lead of as many as 12 points before intermission.
Then Burrell, who finished 12-for-16, crammed 16 of his 26 points into the second half, continuously breaking the comeback effort of the Dons.
With the victory, the Owls (7-4) improved their Catholic League record to 2-0, dropping Loyola (8-4) to 0-2 in the league.
"We were just hoping to establish some kind of consistency," said Owls coach Mike Daniel. "And Rhinehart came out playing super for us. Then, in the second half, Burrell picked us up when we needed it.
"Burrell's been up and down most of the season, but the last two games he started to show that consistency that we're looking for."
Loyola played on even terms with the Owls through the first 10 minutes, tying the score at 23 on a pair of free throws by senior forward Steve Kraning (26 points) with six minutes left in the first half.
"Then we just turned the ball over and gave them too many easy layups," said Loyola coach Jerry Savage.
A basket off a steal by Sharif Butler broke that 23-all tie and started a Towson Catholic scoring spree that Rhinehart built into a 36-24 lead in a little more than three minutes, scoring the Owls' next 11 points.
"That put us in a hole and in the second half we kept making runs, but we just couldn't quite do it," said Savage.
The Dons ran off eight straight points midway in the third quarter to shrink the Owls' lead to 49-46. But in a span of six minutes, Burrell scored 10 of 14 Towson Catholic points, mostly on short jumpers in the lane, as the Owls opened a 63-54 lead with four minutes left.
Loyola eventually cut that lead to 68-66, after a steal and layup by Michael Jackson with 48 seconds to play. But Rhinehart broke through a Dons trap and made a layup and free throw with 27 seconds left to seal the Dons' doom. Butler added another Owls' three-point play with nine seconds left for the final margin of victory.
"The middle of their zone was wide-open, but we just didn't execute against it the way we should," said Savage, whose team lost its Catholic League opener at home to Gibbons, 63-55, on Friday. "We knew these would be two tough games to open the league, and they were."