Loyola holds off Siena ends 4-game skid, 82-77


The Loyola Greyhounds and Siena Saints, who met last night in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game at Reitz Arena, had much in common.

Both teams had first-year coaches trying to find their way out of depressing slumps. Loyola had lost four straight and eight of its past nine, and Siena had dropped three in a row and six of its past seven.

But it was the Greyhounds who persevered, holding off a late Saints rally to win, 82-77, before 1,931.

"These are two basketball programs in transition, trying to find their way," said Loyola coach Brian Ellerbe. "But tonight, we played with a lot of emotion and energy, and that was the difference."

The Greyhounds (6-12, 2-4) battled for every loose ball, hustling their way of a monthlong slump.

Using a trapping defense and getting strong inside play from B. J. Pendleton (15 points, 5 rebounds) and Virgil Wallace (12 points, 7 rebounds), Loyola moved to a 70-58 lead with 9:33 left.

But Stuart Downing, Matt Gras and Jim Secretarski combined to slice the deficit to 73-71 with 1:43 left.

Pendleton, Loyola's leading scorer, who did not start for the second straight game, hit a leaner on the baseline for a four-point spread.

"Pendleton's been struggling offensively of late," Ellerbe said. "Maybe this game will give him a jump-start."

But the Greyhounds could not shake Siena (4-14, 1-5).

The Saints trailed by only 77-74 when Secretarski made a jumper. It took clutch free-throw shooting by senior Loyola reserve Matt Gabriel and John McDonald in the last minute to put the game away.

Siena sophomore forward Goeff Walker, who scored all but two of his 19 points in the first half, led all scorers. Loyola put four players in double figures, with junior guard Teron Owens of Catonsville contributing a career-high 15 points.

Said Owens, who made several acrobatic layups: "Coach Ellerbe told me, 'You're aggressive in practice looking for your shot. Why don't you play the same way in a game?' So I came out tonight with that attitude -- attacking the basket."

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