In a game that was anything but easy, easy baskets proved to be the difference.
Jamal Barney's dunk to tie the score at 58 with less than six minutes to play sent the crowd into a frenzy, and Loyola used the momentum to defeat Coppin State, 73-70, last night before an announced 1,110 at Reitz Arena.
Barney finished with 23 points on 7-for-12 shooting as Loyola (3-7) used a 41-25 rebounding advantage to rally from a 20-point first-half deficit and break a four-game losing streak. Coppin State (1-5), which gave up numerous put-backs and layups in the second half, has lost five in a row.
"This game is very simple," Eagles coach Fang Mitchell said. "If you continue to give up easy baskets, you're going to lose."
The Greyhounds came out lethargic, missing six of their first seven shots. Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos, sticking with his pre-game plan, pulled his starters 3:30 in and kept them on the bench for nearly eight minutes.
That allowed the Eagles to build a 22-10 lead before Loyola's starters returned. After a basket by Barney, Coppin State went on a 10-0 run to push its lead to 32-12.
Despite a horrific shooting night from Marquis Sullivan, who was 0-for-10 from the field and 0-for-9 from three-point range, Loyola refused to abandon its game plan. Switching between their starting five and their bench, the Greyhounds outscored the Eagles 11-2 to close the first half trailing by nine points.
The second half looked as if it would be more of the same. The Eagles pushed the lead to 49-37 at the 13:35 mark on a layup by Chuka Iloegbu, but Isaac Reid scored the next nine points for the Greyhounds, who pulled within 49-46.
But after the Eagles countered with a 7-0 run to make it 56-46, they went five minutes without a field goal, allowing Loyola to climb back behind five points from Brett Harvey and five from Barney, culminating in the latter's game-tying dunk.
Coppin's Tywain McKee (28 points) tied the score at 67, and he hit another three with 1:02 left to give the Eagles the lead, 70-69.
Barney's two free throws - he was 6-for-8 from the line - made it a one-point Loyola lead, and after Harvey made two of his own, Coppin State missed a meaningless two-point shot as time expired.
"We just stuck to the game plan," Patsos said.