ROME, Ga. — Ryan Brock scored 20 of his 21 total points in the second half in leading Loyola University (New Orleans) to a stunning 59-49 upset of No. 1 seed Lee University in round two of the SSAC tournament.
The Flames (22-8) held a 22-19 margin at the half but Brock, a senior guard, exploded for eight straight points to open the second 20 minutes and the Wolfpack never trailed again. At the same time, Lee went stone-cold from the field and went almost six minutes in the second stanza without a hoop.
While the Flames will turn their attention towards a probable at-large berth in the NAIA National Tournament, Loyola advances to face Southern Poly on Friday afternoon.
“When you hold a team to 30 percent shooting from the field and out-rebound them 52-32, you should never lose a game,” pointed out Lee assistant coach Josh Templeton after the loss. The Wolfpack, however, hit 6-of-7 3-point attempts in the final half and marched to the free-throw line 25 times and converted 19.
On the other hand, Lee struggled in every offensive category, shooting 30 percent from the field, canning just 5-of-16 treys, and getting to the free-throw line only 11 times and sinking six.
Templeton again eyed the rebounding totals. “How do you only score 49 points in the game when you grab 21 offensive rebounds?” he asked. One major reason could have been 6-foot-9 Darrinton Moncrieffe who finished the contest with 11 rebounds and six blocked shots. Four of the big man’s blocks came in the opening three minutes when the Flames again clicked five minutes off the scoreboard clock before scoring their first bucket of the game.
“He (Moncrieffe) certainly caused us problems,” admitted Templeton. “He’s an excellent post player. Overall, we could never get on track offensively, but give Loyola their share of the credit. Brock is an outstanding guard, that’s why he averages 23 points per game.”
The Flames also had trouble containing guard Corey Gray, who converted six straight free throws and finished a solid evening with 13 points, four rebounds and four assists. Chris Joseph came off the bench and nailed three huge 3-point shots. He was the only other Wolfpack in double figures with 11.
Antonio Haymon helped keep Lee’s comeback hopes alive with a solid 18-point effort. He also had nine rebounds and three assists. No other Lee player scored in double figures.
Matt Stilwell was excellent, coming off the bench to score nine points and grab four rebounds. Stephen McClellan finished with eight markers and Roy McFadgon helped give Lee a rebounding edge with nine boards.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to quit turning the basketball over,” noted Templeton. “It seemed like every time we were ready to make a serious run, we made a floor mistake. On the other hand, Loyola took good care of the basketball, committing just nine turnovers.”
The national tournament at-large teams should be selected by the middle of next week and the pairings will follow a couple of days later. The Flames were ranked 14th in this week’s NAIA poll but are expected to drop deeper into the top 25 in the final rankings.