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Laster beats buzzer vs. Columbia; Hounds fall to the Mount

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Loyola beat Columbia on the road before falling to Mount St. Mary’s.

The Loyola men’s basketball team saw an improvement in its offensive output this past week, as the Greyhounds split their two contests against Columbia and Mount St. Mary’s.

Junior guard Eric Laster hit a buzzer-beating jump shot to lead the Hounds over the Lions, 64-62, last Tuesday at Columbia, but Loyola would fall to the Mountaineers, 74-65, at Reitz Arena on Saturday.

After shooting less than 30 percent from the field in three straight games before falling to Siena at home, the Greyhounds (3-5 overall) shot over 40 percent against the Lions (5-2) and Mountaineers (2-4). Loyola made a combined 16 three-point baskets in both games.

The Hounds led for most of the game at Columbia, but it remained tight throughout as the Lions kept clawing back. A three-point shot by junior guard Tyler Hubbard gave Loyola a 49-42 lead with 12:24 remaining in the game.

After Columbia scored six straight points to make the score 49-48, the Greyhounds went on another run and seemed to put the game away with a 62-53 lead with 1:50 remaining.

But the Lions scored nine unanswered points in the span of one minute to come back. Isaac Cohen hit the game-tying three-pointer with just 28 seconds left, and the Hounds were on the verge of dropping their fourth straight game.

With the shot clock off, Loyola would have possession for the last 28 seconds of regulation. After the Hounds called two timeouts during their last possession, including one with six seconds left, freshman guard Andre Walker took the in-bounds pass and put up a shot that was blocked by Maodo Lo. Laster, the Greyhounds’ leading scorer this season, grabbed the loose ball and drained the winning shot at the buzzer.

It was the only field goal of the evening for Laster. Junior forward Franz Rassman finished the game shooting 7-for-10 from the field with a career-high 16 points to go with seven rebounds and two blocks. Walker continued his strong rookie campaign with 14 points and five boards. Sophomore forward Nick Gorski scored 11 points off the bench.

Against the visiting Mountaineers on Saturday night, the Hounds brought their A-game from beyond the arc. But the Mount’s offense remained one step ahead of Loyola throughout the game, and was too much for the Greyhound defense to handle.

Similar to the Columbia game, Loyola’s contest against the Mount was close early on. In the second half, however, Mount St. Mary’s began to pull away, building a nine-point lead at 55-46 with 10:17 left.

But a trio of three-pointers by Laster, senior guard Denzel Brito, and Rassman cut the Mount’s lead to 57-55 with 7:33 remaining. The Mount scored the next eight points, though, and would cruise to the nine-point victory.

The Greyhounds shot an impressive 11-for-19 (57.9 percent) from three-point range against the Mount, but only converted on 10 of 18 free throw attempts. Free-throw shooting has been a problem for Loyola this season, as the Hounds are shooting just 65.6 percent from the charity stripe so far.

Hubbard and Laster each scored 14 points on Saturday, as Hubbard drained four shots from beyond the arc. Freshman forward Cam Gregory recorded his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Greyhounds have now lost four of their past five games heading into a road contest against St. Joseph’s on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Hounds return to Reitz on Jan. 3 against Army.

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Laster beats buzzer vs. Columbia; Hounds fall to the Mount