At some point during Loyola's recent six-game losing streak, senior Andre Collins decided he'd had enough. He'd never been a loser before, never grown numb to the painful sting that usually accompanies failure, and he was not about to start doing so now. At the very least, he decided, he was going to make basketball fun again.
The difference was obvious, not just for Collins, but for the entire Loyola team. Making a rare appearance on national television yesterday, the Greyhounds seized the moment against Saint Peter's and perhaps re-energized their season in the process. Led by 30 points and eight assists from Collins, Loyola won for the first time since Jan. 22, defeating the Peacocks, 89-69, in front of 2,227 at Reitz Arena.
"Andre took over this week," Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos said. "Not just in the game, but everywhere. I'm really proud of him. He said, 'We're going back to having fun. We'll do whatever it takes to win.'"
The game -- broadcast on ESPN2 as a part of the network's "Rivalry Week" coverage -- was billed as a showdown between Collins of Loyola (12-11, 6-9 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) and Keydren Clark, the two-time NCAA Division I scoring champion from Saint Peter's (12-12, 8-7). Both are ranked in the top five in the nation in scoring average, and two NBA scouts (one from the Dallas Mavericks, the other from the Denver Nuggets) were there to see the matchup.
For the most part, Clark (24 points on 7-for-21 shooting) fizzled while Collins dazzled, even though Collins took a less aggressive approach on offense than usual.
"The last couple games during the losing streak, I felt like I had to get the ball up, that I had to score to give us a chance to win," Collins said. "Today, I let the game come to me. I got some other guys some good looks."
In big moments, however, Collins didn't hesitate to let it fly, especially in the first half. Loyola led by as much as 20 prior to halftime, and Collins took control of the game during a three-minute, four-possession stretch when he hit two jumpers, found freshman Marquis Sullivan open for the three-pointer, then drilled a deep three-pointer of his own.
"He's the real deal," Saint Peter's coach Bob Leckie said of Collins. "He's very crafty, and very good at getting his shot off."
It wasn't all Collins, though. Sophomore Brad Farrell scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, and Patsos got key contributions from Greg Manning, Linton Hinds and Michael Tuck as the Greyhounds shot 61 percent in the second half.
Tuck, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward, didn't play at all in the first half because of a recent concussion, but in the locker room, he approached Patsos and demanded to play.
"I said, 'Are you sure?'" Patsos said. "Tuck said, 'Coach, I'm going. I don't care.' That made me pretty happy. Our guys were taking charges and sacrificing for the team. That shows me we're building something here." firstname.lastname@example.org
SAINT PETER'S--Clark 7-21 7-7 24, Orta 3-11 0-0 8, Spann 0-3 0-0 0, Spitler 0-0 0-0 0, Bozovic 3-5 0-0 6, Brock 0-1 0-0 0, Hooker 0-0 0-0 0, Owes 4-7 2-4 11, Traore 0-0 0-0 0, Martin 2-5 0-0 4, Gore 0-0 0-0 0, Sowell 3-8 6-9 12, Reeves 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 24-64 15-20 69. LOYOLA--Collins 8-16 11-12 30, Sullivan 2-6 3-4 8, Farrell 4-6 4-5 12, Fofana 2-3 1-3 5, Alujevic 4-9 1-2 9, Hinds 4-6 1-2 10, Manning 1-3 2-2 4, James 2-6 1-2 5, Tuck 2-2 2-4 6. Totals 29-57 26-36 89. Halftime--Loyola, 38-28. 3-point goals--Saint Peter's 6-21 (Clark 3-11, Orta 2-6, Owes 1-2, Bozovic 0-1, Brock 0-1), Loyola 5-17 (Collins 3-7, Hinds 1-2, Sullivan 1-3, James 0-1, Manning 0-1, Farrell 0-1, Alujevic 0-2). Fouled out--Fofana. Rebounds-- Saint Peter's 38 (Sowell 8), Loyola 37 (Farrell 7). Assists-- Saint Peter's 10 (Clark, Owes 3), Loyola 15 (Collins 8). Total fouls-- Saint Peter's 22, Loyola 20. A--2,227.