Every time it looked like host and top-ranked Mount St. Joseph was going to pull away from No. 7 and previously unbeaten Loyola in Irvington last night, the visiting Dons would make a stop or hit a three-pointer to stay in it.
In the end, the host Gaels prevailed, 50-42, despite a bad night at the free-throw line, especially in the final quarter when they made only 10 of 17.
The win left the Mount (12-1 overall) 3-1 in the Baltimore Catholic League and 4-1 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference. Loyola (9-1) is now 2-1 in the BCL and 4-1 in the MIAA.
St. Joe saw a 13-point halftime lead dwindle to nine (33-24) going into the last eight minutes, but 6-11 Henry Sims and sophomore point guard Eric "Smooth" Atkins combined for 11 points down the stretch.
"We didn't come out with the same intensity in the second half that we should have, and they're a three-point shooting team, and three-point shooting teams are never out of the game," said the Georgetown- bound Sims, who had game highs of 17 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Sims started the second half with two of his four dunks, but it didn't seem to fire up the Gaels.
"We thought we had the game put away, so we didn't play as hard, and that's a mistake we've got to correct," Sims said.
Loyola was led by a combined 24 points from Matt Rum (13) and James Davenport. Davenport and Steele Stanwick each had two threes.
"We just dug ourselves too much of a hole at different times," said coach Josh Davalli, whose Dons got within six points in the third quarter and again with 40 seconds remaining in the game on a three by Davenport and a subsequent foul shot, for a four-point play.
St. Joe made three of four from the line in the last 30 seconds to ice the win after missing six others down the stretch.
"We've actually shot better this year [from the free throw line] than we have in the past, but we missed a chance to create a cushion tonight," said Gaels coach Pat Clatchey.