The Loyola Maryland men’s basketball team lost to host Colgate, 85-72, on Sunday in the Patriot League championship game, falling short of its first NCAA tournament berth since 2012.
Tucker Richardson scored 17 points and conference Player of the Year Jordan Burns added 14 of his 16 points in the second half to lift the No. 2 seed Raiders (14-1), who will make their fourth NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2019.
Colgate, in its fourth straight conference title game, led the entire way in extending its program-record win streak to 13.
“This is as unified a group as I’ve ever been around,” coach Matt Langel said. “I mean, with everything that’s going on in the world. They’ve been able to have difficult conversations and grow as a group and, you know, amidst COVID and all the obstacles that we face, they just keep coming back for more, and so they love one another.”
Jaylin Andrews scored 20 points and Isaiah Hart added 11 for the Greyhounds (6-11), who shot just 5-for-22 from 3-point range. Santi Aldama was held to 13 points and seven rebounds, shooting 5-for-13 from the field and 1-for-5 from beyond the arc, after scoring a career-high 33 points in a semifinal win over Army. Cameron Spencer, who returned from hip surgery late in the season and scored 16 points against the Black Knights, finished with just four points on 1-for-6 shooting Sunday and fouled out late in the second half.
The Greyhounds also struggled from the free-throw line, making just nine of 16 attempts. After holding opponents to 42.3% shooting during the season, Loyola allowed Colgate to shoot 52.5% from the field and 60.9% (14-for-23) from 3-point range.
Richardson hit four of his first five 3-point attempts in the first half and scored 15 points to lead the Raiders to an early lead, but Loyola hung around to trail by just five, 38-33, at halftime. A 3-pointer by Burns gave Colgate a 49-41 lead with 16:19 to go in the second half, igniting a 16-7 run that gave the Raiders a 65-48 lead with 10:27 remaining. Loyola could not pull back within single digits the rest of the way.
After becoming one of the last Division I programs to begin its season Jan. 16, Loyola started 1-7 and entered the conference tournament 4-10. With Holy Cross forced to withdraw because of COVID-19 issues, the Greyhounds earned a berth to the quarterfinals, where they upset top-seeded Navy, 76-68. Aldama’s career night led to a 67-63 win against Army, giving Loyola its first appearance in the Patriot League final since joining the conference in 2013-14.
The teams didn’t meet during the regular season as the league split into three regional mini-conferences because of COVID-19 concerns. Colgate, which began play Jan. 2., faced only three different opponents until reaching the conference tournament.
Now it is on to the NCAA tournament, where the Raiders know they have a monumental task ahead. In its NCAA tournament history, Colgate has faced two No. 1 seeds and a No. 2.
“These guys will remember this for the rest of their lives so we’ll have a couple days to get ready for somebody who’s really good,” Langel said. “We’ll have to put a game plan together. I know that our guys will pay attention and now they’ll be super excited, I think we’re really good team, we’ve got a lot of dangerous weapons, and can hurt you in a lot of ways and so if we can find a way to defend and keep somebody from getting easy shots against us, I think we really like our group and I know they’ll be ready to go.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.