Loyola men, women both upset in NAIA first round
NEW ORLEANS – Loyola’s men’s basketball team will not repeat as NAIA national champions.
The fourth-seeded Wolf Pack lost their first-round game in the NAIA National Championship Tournament, falling to 14th-seeded SAGU 82-71 on Tuesday night in the Den.
The Lions (21-10) used an outstanding game in the paint to take control for the majority of the game. They led by as many as 12 points in the first half before holding a 33-29 halftime lead.
They withstood a second-half charge by Loyola and finished strong, outscoring the Wolf Pack (24-7), 18-7, down the stretch to advance to the regional title game against No. 6 Tougaloo, which defeated No. 11 Texas A&M Texarkana, 75-65, on Wednesday.
Things got worse for Loyola later in the evening as the No. 3 women’s team also lost its first game, falling to No. 13 John Brown (Ark.) 68-65.
The Loyola men couldn’t match the inside-outside balance of SAGU, which was led by tone-setting big man Philbert Weekes, who had 20 points and 19 rebounds, including nine of the 17 offensive boards by the Lions.
Brooks Haddock had more points (25) as did Cortland Blake (24), but it was Weeks’ presence inside that was most significant in SAGU controlling the first half and dismissing the Wolf Pack’s comeback.
The Lions extended their lead to 47-40 when Blake made a 3-pointer and added a three-point play in a span of 34 seconds less than five minutes into the second half.
But freshman Alex Hammond, who scored all of his season-high 16 points in the second half, sparked Loyola’s comeback. He had eight points during the first 5:03 of the second half and Bradley Alcime’s free throw tied the score at 51 midway through the half, the first time the Pack hadn’t trailed since the score was 5-5.
The score was tied again at 54 and 56 before a jumper by Jalen Galloway, who finished with 14 points, gave Loyola its first lead of the game, 58-57, with 8:18 remaining.
The Pack’s biggest lead was 62-58 after a driving basket and two free throws by Hammond and their final lead was 65-64 after a free throw by Hammond with 4:10 left.
Haddock made two free throws to put SAGU back on top before Mondesir, who finished with 12 points, drove to the basket after a steal, but couldn’t convert a layup.
The Pack would get outscored 16-6 after that, making just one field goal in the final 4:37.
J.J. Boling’s put-back for his only points of the game and consecutive baskets from the lane by Blake and Weekes put the Lions in control with a 72-65 lead with 1:40 remaining.
SAGU finished with a 55-33 advantage in rebounds and a 17-8 edge in second-chance points. It made 25 of 32 free throws while Loyola made 11 of 17.
The Wolf Pack women (27-3) followed a similar script as they fell into a double-digit hole before coming back but falling short.
The Golden Eagles (21-9) opened a 38-23 lead with 8:40 left in the third quarter before seeing Loyola pull within one point twice in the final minutes.
The Pack trailed by two when it got the ball back with 12 seconds left in the game. After a timeout, Sandra Cannady, who led the Pack with 24 points and 10 rebounds, missed a jumper, just her fourth miss in 12 field-goal attempts, and the Eagles added a made free throw to the final score.
Taylor Thomas scored 16 points and Jazmene McMillan and Tay Cannon scored 10 each for Loyola.
Tarrah Stephens scored 15, Graci Harris had 13 and Lisa Vanoverbrghe 11 to lead John Brown, which will face No. 5 Cumberlands (Ky.), which beat No. 12 Midway (Ky.), 117-108 in triple overtime, in the regional final Wednesday.
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Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. The New Orleans area native’s blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists. He has since become a valued contributor for CCS. The Jesuit High…