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Loyola's skid hits 8 with OT loss to Iona Top scorer Smith returns, but Gaels prevail, 85-78

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Loyola College has tried for more than a month to win its 1,000th men's basketball game. And it seems as though the Greyhounds have been attempting to get healthy for the past two years.

They drew a step closer to the second goal last night with the return of leading scorer Anthony Smith, who hadn't played since injuring his right foot late in a Dec. 10 loss at Towson State. But there wouldn't be a much-needed victory over a team that is emerging as the best in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Sophomore center Kashif Hameed scored a career-high 25 points on 12-for-16 shooting from the field to lead Iona past the Greyhounds, 85-78, in overtime before 412 at Reitz Arena.

This was Loyola's first home appearance in 32 days, and it became the Greyhounds' eighth consecutive loss. They're 2-9 overall, 0-1 in the league and growing more frustrated with each failure.

"We didn't make the plays when the game was on the line, and they did," said coach Brian Ellerbe, whose team still is without redshirt freshman forward Blanchard Hurd because of recurring knee problems.

"Obviously, frustration sets in. That's understandable, given the circumstances. But at the same time, the guys continue to fight, they continue to give what they have, they continue to come in with a positive attitude."

Junior guard Mike Powell had two points at halftime, but finished with 25. Smith, bothered by leg cramps in the second half and playing power forward for the first time, scored 17 before fouling out with 42 seconds left in overtime. Freshman forward Erik Cooper added 15 before fouling out late in regulation.

Iona (10-3, 1-0), winner of four in a row, got 16 points from senior forward Mindaugus Timinskas of Lithuania.

Powell banked in a three-pointer, then drove the lane and fed Smith for a layup to give the Greyhounds a 69-68 lead with 2: 20 left in regulation. Smith was fouled on the play and made the free throw.

Former Loyola guard John McDonald hit twice from the line to tie the score at 70, and Smith was called for goaltending on a shot by Hameed with 29 seconds left. Powell then made a short jumper near the baseline with seven seconds remaining, and Iona couldn't get off a shot before the buzzer.

The Gaels never trailed in overtime. Loyola center Roderick Platt (12 points) was called for goaltending, McDonald scored underneath, and Timinskas made two free throws to give Iona its biggest lead, 78-72. The Greyhounds twice got it down to four, but no closer.

"We have a lot of respect for Loyola," said Iona coach Tim Welsh. "Only a blind man wouldn't know they haven't had their whole team together. They're definitely a contender in our league."

There were nine ties and eight lead changes in the first half, which ended with Iona in front, 34-32.

McDonald, who left Loyola during the Christmas break last year and enrolled at Iona, had eight points and four assists before fouling out with 1: 38 left in overtime.

IONA -- Matthew 3-9 6-6 12, McDonald 2-6 4-4 8, Kirksay 2-7 2-2 7, Hameed 12-16 0-1 25, Timinskas 5-9 6-7 16, Mitchell 5-7 4-5 15, Bell 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 30-55 22-25 85.

LOYOLA -- Powell 8-14 7-7 25, Rowe 1-10 0-1 2, Smith 8-13 1-3 17, Cooper 6-10 2-2 15, Platt 5-5 2-5 12, Kelly 3-13 1-2 7. Totals 31-65 13-20 78.

Halftime--Iona 34-32. Regulation--72-72. 3-point goals-- Iona 3-14 (Matthew 0-3, McDonald 0-3, Kirksay 1-3, Hameed 1-1, Timinskas 0-3, Mitchell 1-1), Loyola 3-14 (Powell 2-4, Rowe 0-4, Cooper 1-1, Kelly 0-5). Fouled out--McDonald, Timinskas, Smith, Cooper. Rebounds-- Iona 35 (Hameed, Mitchell 8), Loyola 29 (Smith 7). Assists-- Iona 8 (McDonald 4), Loyola 13 (Powell, Kelly 4). Total fouls-- Iona 22, Loyola 21. A--412.

Pub Date: 1/09/97

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