Cam Spencer and Jaylin Andrews, the Loyola Maryland men’s basketball team’s two best scorers, came through again for the Greyhounds.
Spencer scored a game-high 26 points, and fellow junior shooting guard Andrews added 19 to help Loyola pull away from visiting Mount St. Mary’s, 61-55, on Saturday before an announced 1,121 at Reitz Arena.
Spencer, a Davidsonville resident, and Andrews, an Owings Mills resident, have played together for the past six seasons since they were students at Boys’ Latin, and they credited that cohesion with helping the Greyhounds (5-4) extend their winning streak to four games.
“We’ve got a great chemistry that we can’t even talk about,” the 6-foot-4, 186-pound Andrews said. “If you see after every play, I’m going to him, and he’s going to me, and it’s great to have him with me.”
“We just kind of read each other before plays even happen and just have a great chemistry and a great feel for each other,” said the 6-4, 207-pound Spencer, the younger brother of former Loyola lacrosse great and current Capital City Go-Go guard Pat Spencer. “We have great communication as well.”
Spencer found his rhythm early, scoring 13 of the Greyhounds’ first 22 points despite being marked closely by the Mountaineers’ 6-8, 230-pound senior forward Mezie Offurum.
Andrews erupted in the final 3:36 of the first half, scoring nine of Loyola’s final 11 points to give the team a 37-34 lead at halftime. Andrews said a layup-and-free throw with 3:36 remaining helped provide a spark to his game.
“I saw that Cam was going at it from the start of the game, and I wanted to follow him up and help him out,” he said. “And then the team followed suit. So that definitely helped out.”
Spencer scored 11 of his points in the second half, and Andrews compiled 10 in the same frame. Spencer did most of his damage at the free-throw line, converting all 12 opportunities. He sank four consecutive free throws that, when added to a jumper by Andrews, contributed to the Greyhounds embarking on a 6-0 run over 35.2 seconds in the final minute that allowed them to turn a 55-54 lead into a 61-54 cushion and pull away from Mount. St. Mary’s.
“They were playing pretty aggressively on the ball screens, and I knew one of their players had a good amount of fouls,” Spencer said, referring to Offurum, who fouled out with 1:11 left in regulation. “So we wanted to stay aggressive and attack the basket and get in the bonus like we did in the first half.”
Spencer and Andrews have led the offense in scoring in five games thus far, making them a reliable source of points for coach Tavaras Hardy.
“We know that they’re more than capable,” Hardy said. “They kind of made the decision to try to take Cam out of the game, but that didn’t work. Cam was able to still get going, but that also allowed Jaylin to get going as well. But those guys are team players. They want to see everybody get involved.”
Loyola also benefitted from a zone defense that shut out the Mountaineers for four minutes in the first half and contributed to another 4:22 drought in the second.
“We actually didn’t thinking coming into this game that we were going to play as much zone as we did,” Hardy said. “But we were recognizing that they were active, and they were listening to adjustments in the timeouts, and the zone just felt like it was working for us. So we kept playing it, and it made a difference. We’ve got to become a great defensive team, and we’re getting there when we’re using both our man and zone.”
Senior shooting guard Deandre Thomas paced the Mountaineers with 14 points and four rebounds. Redshirt senior forward Nana Opoku added 12 points and three rebounds, and junior point guard Jalen Benjamin compiled 11 points and three rebounds.
But Mount St. Mary’s (3-6) lost for the fifth time in its last seven games in part after turning the ball over nine of 13 times in the second half.
“Turnovers have been a problem for us and continue to be down the stretch,” coach Dan Engelstad said. “We had a couple opportunities when we took the lead to try to put them away, and we couldn’t execute during those times. We’ve got to get better.”
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