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Loyola beats UMBC, 45-38, in sloppy men's basketball game

In a game that neither men's basketball team appeared in a hurry to win, Loyola finally rose to the occasion.

The Greyhounds overcame a woeful shooting performance and the absence of a key starter to outlast visiting UMBC, 45-38, before an announced 942 at Reitz Arena Wednesday night.

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Loyola used a 14-5 run over the final 10 minutes of the second half to improve to 2-1. The Greyhounds have won their past two games since falling to Texas Tech, 71-59, in their season opener last Friday, but were nearly undone by sloppy play.

The team shot just 29.4 percent (15 of 51) and had four more turnovers than successful field goals. Loyola also missed 11 of 25 free throws en route to the fewest points in a win for the program since 1981-82.

"Offensively, we struggled," Greyhounds coach G.G. Smith said. "The ball has to move. There's too much standing around, too much looking for somebody else to make the play. We only had four assists. We forced 19 turnovers and only had four assists. And we only had two fastbreak points off their 19 turnovers. We're just not playing well offensively."

Freshman guard Andre Walker paced Loyola with a team-high 16 points, including seven in the second half. His jumper and 3-pointer sparked the team's game-ending run.

"Sometimes you do need something like that, a dunk, a layup, some type of move or something to get everybody riled up," said Walker, who is leading the team in scoring at 14.7 points per game and helped pace the bench in outscoring UMBC's reserves, 22-6.

"It starts with the bench," he said. "When the bench starts motivating us, everybody on the court starts getting motivated. It just so happened that my bucket got everybody going."

Junior guard Eric Laster chipped in seven points and six rebounds, and junior forward Franz Rassman added six points and eight rebounds. Freshman forward Cam Gregory posted his second consecutive game with double-digit rebounds with 12 boards.

The Greyhounds were forced to play without injured junior forward Jarred Jones, who had averaged 6.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in the team's first two games. Jones' ailment was described as a tweaked knee suffered in Sunday's 76-71 win over Cornell. His status for Saturday's game at Butler is unclear.

Neither team shot well in the first half, opening the game by missing their first 11 combined shots. The Greyhounds converted just 31.0 percent (9 of 29) of their field-goal attempts, including an 0-for-5 showing from behind the 3-point arc.

UMBC was only slightly worse, connecting on just 30.4 percent (7-of-23) of its shots and going 0-for-8 from 3-point range.

Loyola committed nine turnovers in the first half, while the Retrievers gave the ball away eight times.

But neither team could create much separation. The largest lead of the half was four when the Retrievers held a 6-2 advantage.

The second half appeared to be a continuation of the first. At one point, both teams combined for more turnovers (26) than field goals made (21).

UMBC clearly missed the presence of sophomore point guard Rodney Elliott. The John Carroll graduate who averaged 15 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game en route to being named the America East Rookie of the Year at the end of the 2013-14 season sat out with an unspecified injury. His status for Saturday's game at Minnesota is uncertain.

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Cody Joyce scored a game-high 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Retrievers. The Churchton resident and Southern-AA graduate scored 10 points during a sloppy first half. Fifth-year senior guard Wayne Sparrow (St. Frances) added 13 points on 4 of 19 shooting and had five rebounds.

But the Retrievers made just 26.4 percent (14 of 53) of their shots, including just 9.5 percent (2 of 21) from behind the 3-point line. They committed 19 turnovers and dropped to 0-2.

"That was the ugliest game I've ever seen," UMBC coach Aki Thomas said. "They made some plays, got some offensive rebounds, made their free throws. They were poised for a good five minutes when they needed to be and we weren't. To me, that kind of cost us the game."

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