Just one game in the area on Friday, and so Loyola-Fairfield will fill up the rewind ...
FORTUNES RISING, TEAM
The Greyhounds have won four straight conference games after grinding out a 63-58 overtime victory over Fairfield. That puts Loyola in a three-way tie for the top in the Metro Atlantic with Iona and Niagara at 4-1.
More than anything, though, Loyola doesn't look like the sluggish bunch that came out of Christmas break with a lopsided loss to an exceptional Bucknell team. Since then, the Greyhounds have pestered Memphis well into the second half, then won three straight at home in the MAAC.
Loyola is 12-5, and has the look of a team well on its way to a 20-win season. Success, in some ways, will be defined by three days in March, but they Greyhounds are starting to coalesce in a way that makes it obvious they will be a difficult out in the MAAC tournament --- again.
FORTUNES RISING, INDIVIDUAL
Erik Etherly, Loyola
A shoulder injury slowed the senior in December, but he's been exceptional in three conference games since New Year's. Etherly is averaging 21.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in that stretch while shooting 22 of 42 (52.4 percent) from the floor.
It's no secret the Greyhounds will lean heavily on Etherly and guards Dylon Cormier and Robert Olson. But especially on a night when no outside shots fell (literally none; Loyola was 0-for-8), a reliable inside presence was needed to give the Greyhounds a shot. Etherly offered just that, as he often did throughout last season.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
Loyola's record when allowing less than 60 points. The Greyhounds have built their identity on defense, and their length, athleticism and eagerness to get stops ensure they will not be a treat over the rest of the MAAC schedule.
Possessions for both Fairfield and Loyola in the second half. The teams managed 34 points in their combined 44 trips, with the average possession lasting 27.3 seconds in that stretch.
ON TAP SATURDAY
It's a crammed schedule, even if there's only so much going on in the immediate area ...
Georgetown looks to avoid an 0-3 start in Big East play when it visits St. John's. ... Northeastern and Towson meet in the Baltimore 'burbs in a matchup of two teams who are 3-0 in the CAA. That's a noon tip at the Towson Center. ... George Mason (9-6, 2-1 CAA) seeks its third straight victory as it faces reeling UNC Wilmington for the only time this season.
The ACC's Virginia schools are both on the road. Virginia heads to Clemson, while Virginia Tech plays at Georgia Tech. ... Patriot League play commences with a pair of locals on the road. Navy is at Lafayette, while American treks to Colgate. ...
Mount St. Mary's completes its Brooklyn swing with a game at Long Island. ... UMBC seeks back-to-back wins for the first time since Feb. 3-6, 2011, when it faces Vermont. The Retrievers have dropped nine straight to the Catamounts. ...
George Washington (7-7) looks to start Atlantic 10 play with consecutive wins when it heads to Xavier. ... There's no shortage of local MEAC action; Howard (vs. Hampton), Morgan State (vs. South Carolina State) and Coppin State (vs. Savannah State) all have 4 p.m. tips at home.
--- Patrick Stevens