The applause and cheers that earlier filled Reitz Arena on Saturday night turned into screaming and a near-fight during an emotionally charged return for former Loyola Maryland and current Siena men's basketball coach Jimmy Patsos.
In a matchup between the Greyhounds' all-time winningest coach in Division I and his former assistant and eventual successor, Patsos bested G.G. Smith. His Saints scored 51 points in the second half of an 81-71 victory before an announced 1,023, which included Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams, Patsos' mentor at Maryland.
If the night was an emotional one for Patsos, he didn't show it at the postgame news conference.
Loyola “probably outplayed us, except maybe in the final five minutes, when we really grinded it out,” he said.
Tyler Hubbard led the Greyhounds with a career-high 23 points, and Eric Laster added 14. Five Saints reached double digits in points.
The opening tip-off foreshadowed a sloppy start for the Greyhounds. The battle off the whistle left the ball bouncing harmlessly to the sideline, and Loyola's offense was nearly as out of sorts for the game's first eight minutes.
Both teams got into foul trouble early, combining for 18 personal fouls in the first half. They ended the game with a combined 51.
Leading 35-30 at halftime, Loyola looked to pull further away as Cam Gregory opened the second half with a quick layup. But the Saints answered every Greyhounds basket, quickly cutting the deficit.
Coming off a nine-day break, Siena had played man-to-man defense in the first half. But a switch to its usual 3-2 zone for the second half made the difference. Two consecutive turnovers by Loyola allowed Evan Hymes to score underneath and brought the Saints to within 49-48 with 11 minutes to play.
The game's most pivotal moment might have come about two minutes later, when Hubbard turned the ball over and Siena's Marquis Wright made a layup to tie the game at 52. The Saints took their first lead of the half when Brett Bisping scored to make it 54-53.
Tensions escalated when several players pushed and shoved one another under the basket after a ball thrown by a Greyhounds player, intended for the referee, accidentally hit a Saints player. Franz Rassman and Wright had to be pulled apart by referees, and they and Laster each were charged with technical fouls. Rassman fouled out.
The scrum sparked a stagnant Siena offense, which finished shooting 46.6 percent from the field. Ryan Oliver was key, hitting a 3-pointer off the bench to break a 66-all tie.
Sophomore guard Lavon Long (Oakland Mills) later hit a short jumper, and another 3-pointer by Oliver stretched the margin to 74-66.
“It came down to keeping our poise,” Smith said. “We didn't really have our poise in the final five minutes.”