Monday, February 13, 2012

After Big Victory, Loyola Has Fall vs. Fairfield

Apres moi, le deluge ....

The phrase, with origins back to the mid-1700s, was first used by a French monarch to warn "After me, the flood," or that things would take a downturn after his reign.

The phrase, to stretch its meaning more than a little, fits the Loyola men's basketball team right now for after an inspirational victory over first-place Iona on Friday night came the deluge of poor play: Sunday's 68-51 letdown loss against suddenly resurgent Fairfield.

The outcome left the Stags as the hottest team in the conference with a five-game winning streak and helped get them back into contention for the regular-season title with a 10-4 conference record.

Loyola's loss along with Iona's victory at Marist on Sunday left those two programs tied for the top spot with 12-3 records. Manhattan is next at 11-4.

The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for the Greyhounds, and left even Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos scratching his head.

"I was surprised at our lack of effort," said an obviously frustrated Patsos after the game. "We usually win all of the 'hustle stats.' Today, we didn't win any of them."

The Greyhounds, coming off an emotional win over conference-power Iona on Friday, fell behind early and spent a good part of the first half clawing and scratching to catch up. When Fairfield's Derek Needham hit two free throws, Loyola found itself trailing 25-19 with 7:01 left in the half. Loyola scored seven of the next nine points to cut the deficit to 27-26 with 1:46 left to play. The 'Hounds had a few opportunities to tie the game or take the lead, but came up empty each time. The Stags got a field goal from Sanders and free throws from Jamel Fields to take a 31-27 lead at the break.

The second half was all Fairfield. On the first play, Sanders stole the ball from Etherly and hit Ryan Olander in stride for a 3-pointer for a seven-point lead. From there, the rout was on. Loyola scored four of the next 21 points to trail 51-31 with 11:03 left in the game.

Loyola shot just 4-for-23 from the field in the second half.

"I've been coaching for 23 years, and I've learned that when you play bad, that's just how it goes," Patsos said. "I'd call timeout and draw up a play, and we'd go out and do the exact opposite. I take responsibility for the loss, because I didn't prepare them well enough. Success is new to these kids, so it's my fault."

"We threw a lot of things at them [defensively]," said Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson, in a homecoming of sorts (he is a graduate of Baltimore's Towson Catholic High School).

Asked if he would have his players watch film of the game, Patsos paused.

"That's a good question," he said. "Yeah, I think we probably will. Monday is our normal day off, and we will be off tomorrow (Monday). "Rest assured, things will be different on Tuesday, though."

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