Santi Aldama scored a career-high 33 points as ninth-seeded Loyola Maryland held off fourth-seeded Army, 67-63, in the semifinals of the Patriot League men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday.
The Greyhounds advance to the Patriot League championship game for the first time, where they will face No. 2 seed Colgate (13-1), a 105-75 winner over Bucknell. Loyola is seeking its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012, when it won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title.
Aldama shot 13-for-15 from the field — a Patriot League record for made shots in a semifinal game — including 5-for-6 from 3-point range and added 12 rebounds. Cameron Spencer (Boys’ Latin) had 16 points and seven rebounds for Loyola (6-10), which upset top-seeded Navy in the quarterfinals.
Aldama opened the game with a 3, and the Greyhounds took a 19-5 lead. Loyola hit four of its first five 3-point attempts and finished a season-best 10-for-22 from beyond the arc as it built a 42-27 halftime lead.
Army cut the lead down to two points twice in the final 1:31, but Aldama answered each time. The sophomore from Spain hit a layup with 24 seconds left, and after Army closed to within 65-63 on a Josh Caldwell basket, Aldama threw down a dunk with seven seconds to go on a pass from Spencer to ice Loyola’s win.
Jalen Rucker scored a season-high 21 points and had six rebounds for the Black Knights (12-9). Caldwell scored a career-high 21 points.
In addition to the combined 49 points from Aldama and Spencer, Jaylin Andrews and Kenneth Jones each scored six. Jones also had five rebounds and a game- and season-high five assists, while Golden Dike added six rebounds to help Loyola enjoy a 38-27 rebounding advantage.
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