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Greyhounds two games short of record losses

BALTIMORE -- As the game drew to a close, the crowd began
chanting in unison. When the final buzzer sounded, the students
eagerly rushed the court and mobbed the players.

It had been more than a year since Loyola
won a
basketball game, so the fans can be forgiven for their overzealous
celebration Thursday night.

With a 63-57 victory over Marist, Loyola snapped a 31-game
losing streak and put an end to a run of futility that nearly
earned the Greyhounds an unwanted place in the NCAA record book.

Loyola narrowly avoided the NCAA mark for successive losses with
its first victory since Jan. 19, 2003. Grambling lost 33 in a row
from Dec. 6, 1999 to Dec. 16, 2000.

"It's a big sense of relief," Loyola coach Scott Hicks said.
"There was a lot of happiness in our locker room tonight."

Charlie Bell scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half for
the Greyhounds (1-18, 1-9 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference), who
handed Marist (5-13, 3-6) its fourth straight defeat.

"I feel horrible for our team," Marist assistant coach Stephen
Sauers said.

Will McClurkin scored 15 points for the Red Foxes, but he missed
nine shots. Guard Brandon Ellerbee went 0-for-10 from the field and
0-for-2 at the foul line.

It all added up to a rare victory for the Greyhounds, who had
lost 10 straight to Marist.

"It's a tough loss because of the circumstances," Marist coach
Dave Magarity said. "At some point, you knew they were going to
win a game. There were a lot of teams they could have beaten,
should have beaten."

Had the Greyhounds not defeated Marist, they faced the prospect
of facing the top two teams in the MAAC (St. Peter's and Manhattan)
in their next two games.

But after getting plenty of unwanted national notoriety in
recent weeks, Loyola was all too eager to end the embarrassing
skid.

"This is a big weight off my back," guard Jamaal Dixon said.
"I was happy for my teammates, and happy for the students."
After the Greyhounds let a 10-point lead dwindle to 56-54, Dixon
scored on a drive and later made two free throws for a six-point
lead with 42 seconds left.

The boisterous fans stood for the final seconds, chanting,
"It's all over!" shortly before the final buzzer.

"The crowd was a big part of our energy tonight," Hicks said.

A three-point play by Bell put the Greyhounds up by 10 with
18:37 remaining, but Loyola made only two baskets over the next
seven minutes while Marist closed to 38-37.

Loyola's Sean Corrigan then sank a 3-pointer and Bell followed
with a driving layup for a six-point cushion. During the ensuing
time-out, Bell exhorted the small but spirited crowd by waving his
arms upward.

Loyola limited the Red Foxes to 32 percent shooting and closed
the first half with an 8-0 run to take a 30-23 lead. It was the
seventh time this season the Greyhounds led at halftime, including
their first meeting with Marist -- a 64-48 defeat.

This time, however, Loyola held on.

"I have a lot of respect for our players," Hicks said.
"They've gone through a lot."