Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos didn't give a whole lot of basketball reasons for what happened against Fairfield last night. Rebounding problems, the late-game drought from the field, the game's strange ending - none of that seemed to be on the coach's mind in the minutes after Fairfield hung on for a 63-60 victory in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game at Reitz Arena.
Rather, Patsos talked for several minutes about how puzzled he was with the team's flat first-half effort. Loyola (5-11, 1-4) trailed nearly the whole first half, and Fairfield (10-6, 3-2) held a 33-25 lead at intermission.
Trailing at halftime forced the Greyhounds to use a lot of energy to come back and eventually take the lead with just less than eight minutes left, but the Stags scored 14 of the game's final 20 points to escape with the victory.
"I didn't see the passion and pride early," Patsos said. "The second half was great, but we probably lost the game in the first 10 minutes of the game."
The team's flat performance perplexed Patsos, who wants the Greyhounds to understand the importance of always playing with intensity.
"We're passing quizzes, but we're failing some tests," Patsos said. "I have to examine myself as a coach to see how we can pass tests."
This was Loyola's first home game in 30 days, and the strong play of Brett Harvey (21 points) and Jamal Barney (19) kept the Greyhounds close and helped them rally in the second half.
Harvey was 5-for-7 on three-pointers, and Barney (Southwestern) combined with him to lead a 21-6 run that gave Loyola a 54-50 lead with 7:36 left. But the Greyhounds made just one basket after that, a goaltending call that gave Tony Lewis his second field goal and his team a 60-59 lead with 1:26 left.
Fairfield rebounded after that when Greg Nero (15 points) made two free throws with 45.7 seconds remaining for a 61-60 lead. Yorel Hawkins (10 points, 17 rebounds) hit two more free throws with 10.6 seconds left for the three-point edge.
Loyola then had a chance to tie. The Greyhounds got the ball upcourt and called timeout with 3.8 seconds left. They passed it to Isaac Reid around the three-point arc, but the Stags double-teamed him. He apparently got confused and passed the ball to teammate Brian Rudolph under the basket as time ran out, giving up a chance to take a three-pointer and possibly tie the score.
"He'll learn from this," Harvey said.
Fairfield dominated play inside, out-rebounding the Greyhounds 43-33 and scoring 34 points in the paint. The Stags also kept their composure when Loyola rallied for the second-half lead.
The Greyhounds played with the fire Patsos wanted in the second half. They just didn't do it in the first half. Now the coach wants to figure out why.
"Young teams are interesting," Patsos said.