Niagara backcourt burns Loyola; Young, Johnson team for 59 in 103-86 win, ruin 'Hounds' regular-season finale


Niagara's starting guards put on a show worthy of superlatives at Evergreen yesterday, figuring in more than 80 percent of the Purple Eagles' points in a 103-86 demolition of Loyola.

One of those guards, Alvin Young, entered Reitz Arena with 640 points and a 24.6 scoring average, Division I's best and, by two-tenths of a point, second-best scoring figures, respectively.

He scored 33 yesterday -- 26 in the second half, much more icing than essential.

More damaging early was Young's backcourt partner, Jeremiah Johnson, who scored 26, 14 in the more competitive first half, when the visitors grabbed the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game's lead at 24-22 after a TV timeout with 11: 22 remaining and were never threatened again.

Between them, Young -- a 6-foot-3 senior and New York City native who never played high school ball -- and Johnson assisted on 12 more Niagara baskets.

Johnson, a 6-0 senior from Northern Virginia, also had four steals.

Each scored from the baseline, on fast breaks, around the paint, as well as threes galore -- the pair combined to hit eight of 18 attempts.

"Niagara's guards are the best in the league," said Dino Gaudio, Loyola's coach, shaking his head. "We played man, we played zone they're just outstanding.

"I'm real disappointed," Gaudio added, "because at this point in the season, we still don't understand how hard we have to work -- to prepare -- to succeed. We need a voice in the locker room to help make us play harder, for longer, and we just don't have that."

Purple Eagles coach Joe Mihalich was delighted with his guards.

"When they play like they did today, we wouldn't trade our backcourt for any in the country," said Mihalich, adding that the guards, who alternated stints at point and on the sides, "benefited from mismatches we were getting because of some of the things [Loyola] was doing defensively."

Young's key points came as the second half opened. He hit seven of Niagara's first dozen points to prevent Loyola (12-14, 6-12) from paring its 49-35 halftime deficit.

Later, during eight Niagara possessions that left the Greyhounds for dead with eight minutes left, 91-64, Young made four three-pointers and a free throw.

Young credited Johnson's first-half output with helping him, explaining: "He did so well, they kind of lost track of me. His great play allowed me to get open looks."

Loyola honored its only senior, Landover's Roderick Platt, before its last regular-season game. The 6-10, 265-pounder played his heart out yesterday, hitting all nine of his shots from the field, including three dunks, totaling 24 points and six rebounds.

"I got kind of emotional," Platt said. "It's a nice four years coming to an end. The school's been real supportive, and the education -- that's the No. 1 priority."

Niagara (16-11, 13-5) expects to finish second in the MAAC. Loyola will end up either eighth or tied for ninth in the 10-team league heading into the conference tournament starting Friday in Buffalo, N.Y. The Greyhounds will play either Rider or Fairfield in the first round.

NIAGARA -- Edwards 4-9 1-2 10, Amponsah 1-1 0-0 2, Piwerka 3-7 2-2 9, Johnson 10-19 2-2 26, Young 13-23 3-6 33, Bernosky 2-2 0-0 4, Greene 3-7 0-2 8, Strobl 1-1 0-0 3, Dobrich 2-3 0-0 6. Totals 40-74 8-14 103.

LOYOLA -- Carroll 3-6 0-2 8, Hurd 4-7 1-2 9, Platt 9-9 6-9 24, Walker 5-11 0-0 15, Rowe 2-5 2-3 6, Jenifer 3-8 1-2 7, Blosser 5-11 0-0 14, Strong 1-3 1-2 3, Mack 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 36-62 11-20 86.

Halftime--N 49-35. 3-point goals--N 15-30 (Edwards 1-3, Piwerka 1-3, Johnson 4-8, Young 4-10, Greene 2-3, Strobl 1-1, Cobrich 2-2); L 11-29 (Carroll 2-4, Walker 5-10, Rowe 0-2, Jenifer 0-2, Blosser 4-9, Mack 0-2). Fouled out -- Edwards. Rebounds--N 39 (Piwerka 8); L (Carroll 8). Assists--N 24 (Johnson 9); L 19 (Rowe 5). Total fouls--N 18; L 14. A--1,711.

Pub Date: 2/21/99

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