Loyola's basketball team reached the NCAA men's tournament last season, while Towson struggled mightily in the regular season. The Tigers have improved this year, but the Greyhounds were a little better as they secured a 65-53 victory Monday night at Reitz Arena.
Loyola won without second-leading scorer Erik Etherly. Etherly, the preseason Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's Player of the Year, is day-to-day after he injured his shoulder in practice on Friday.
The Greyhounds (6-1) were led by Dylon Cormier's 19 points. Jerome Hairston led the Tigers (3-3) with 13 points.
Loyola now holds a 48-27 advantage in the series between the two schools.
"This is a neighborhood battle, and it comes down to who wants to win the rebounding war," Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos said. "We were a little deeper than they were, and we got good shots from Dylon and Robert (Olson). They make us go."
The Greyhounds played their usual up-tempo style, and an aggressive man-to-man defense that seemed to confound the Tigers at times. Loyola's experience showed during many stretches of the game, especially early in the second half when the Greyhounds began to press and took advantage of several Towson turnovers to put the game away.
"We saw a lot of tape on them, and we saw they hadn't really been pressed," Cormier said. "We threw that in as a wrinkle, and it worked for us. We got some points off of that."
The Tigers kept the score close early, using six points by Bilal Dixon to trail only 10-8, with 14:43 remaining in the first half. Loyola used a jumper by Cormier and a layup by Julius Brooks off a steal to take a 14-8 lead. Then, after two free throws from the Tigers' Marcus Damas cut the lead to 14-10 with 13:46 left, Loyola turned up the defensive intensity.
From that point, Loyola went on a 10-6 run to take a 24-16 lead on a layup and foul shot by Cormier with 6:17 left. The Tigers had a chance to cut the margin and get back in the game, but both Kris Walden and Rafriel Guthrie missed the front ends of one-and-ones. The Greyhounds' defense began to wear on Towson, and Loyola built on the lead to take a 36-26 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Tigers were their own worst enemies in the first half, shooting just 8-30 from the field (26.7%), while going 0-for-6 from the 3-point stripe. Loyola did a much better job on 3-pointers in the first half, converting 4-of-11.
Towson played a much more deliberate offense early in the second half, and layups by Dixon and Mike Burwell cut the margin to 36-30, just under 2 minutes into the second stanza. Loyola responded again, using two jumpers from Cormier and a 3-pointer from Olson to run the margin 45-32, with 12:19 left. The Tigers also doubled their turnovers in the first 8 minutes of the first half, and that certainly helped increase the Greyhounds' lead.
The Tigers got a scare with 41 seconds left in the game when Damas tripped and hit his face on the court. The Towson staff said that Damas suffered a mild concussion and chipped a tooth on the play. He had to be helped off the court.