Dalton State Loses Nailbiter To Loyola

Thursday, January 17, 2019 - by Erik Simpson
Dalton State got off to a solid start, but a 14 point first half lead would eventually evaporate as Loyola (La.) stormed back to hold home court and defeat the Roadrunners 73-72 in SSAC action at The Den in New Orleans, La. on Thursday night.
 
A slow start from the Wolf Pack benefited the Roadrunners as they jumped out to an early nine point lead at 12-3. Great play from Raheem England and Malik Pugh were key to the quick start. Another bucket from England along mixed with a basket from Elijah Staley saw the Dalton State extend the lead to 13 with 13:55 to go in the half.
 
Dalton State continued to push the ball and convert from the field on the offensive end.
They would stretch the lead out to 14 with 8:01 remaining in the half, forcing a Loyola timeout. Staley did most of the damage to the Wolf Pack defense with eight points during the stretch as they had no answer for him on the inside.
 
Loyola started to heat up from the field out of the timeout and cut the lead to 11 at 30-19 with 5:54 on the clock. The Wolf Pack began to mix in big men Josh Laney and Benjamin Fields in the paint and the substitutions started to pay off. By the 2:16 mark, Loyola had cut the lead to three, 34-31. The Roadrunners picked up some much needed baskets to carry some momentum into the half, but the Wolf Pack matched them. At the half, Dalton State carried a 38-34 lead.
 
Both squads continued to match the other point-for-point to begin the second half. Four minutes in, Dalton State held a slim 44-43 lead. The Wolf Pack began to pick up the intensity and took the lead for the first time since the 18:46 mark of the first half on a Myles Burns field goal, 48-46.
 
The score stayed close, but it would be Loyola holding the lead. A Zach Wrightsil three extended the Wolf Pack advantage to four at 55-51 with 11:41 remaining in the game. The Roadrunners found a way to answer with Kingston Frazier countering with a three of his own off a Raheem England rebound to narrow the margin once again.
 
Holding a two point lead at 58-56, Loyola turned missed opportunities and turnovers from the Roadrunners into points to take their biggest lead of the game at six points and force a Dalton State timeout. The break in the action helped Dalton State as they slashed into the lead, but the Wolf Pack answered back and kept the advantage at six.
 
With time running out, the Roadrunners turned up the tenacity on the boards. A combination of misses were countered with offensive rebounds that turned into two points for Staley and sent him to the line for a three-point play. He converted the free throw to cut the lead to three at 71-68 with 3:54 left.
 
Another field goal next trip down court by Timothy Green narrowed the gap to one. Two Wrightsil free throws on the next exchange pulled the lead back out to three at 73-70. With 50 seconds to go and on defense, Dalton State looked for a defensive stop. They got it in the form of a turnover. Randy Bell leaped high for a ball then heaved it down court to Frazier. Frazier did the rest converting the bucket and drawing a foul.
 
The junior from Opelika, Ala. had his shot hit off the back iron and into the arms of Loyola's Ethan Turner. Turner got the ball out to Wrightsil who turned it over to Cranney. Cranney then hit Frazier with an outlet pass. Frazier would miss a floater in the lane, but Staley corralled the rebound and went up with the ball. His attempt dipped and dunked around the rim before popping out to Burns of the Wolf Pack.
 
Burns then headed to the line. He would proceed to miss his free throw and gave the Roadrunners another chance to win the game. Frazier received the inbounds pass and rocketed up court. He got an open lane but his runner hit the rim and bounced off. Burns once again got the rebound and headed to the line with three seconds on the clock. He missed both attempts to give Dalton State on last opportunity for a miracle. The pass from the baseline traveled too far and into the hands of the Wolf Pack who ran out the clock to take the 73-72 win.
 
Dalton State falls to (10-7 overall, 5-4 SSAC) with the loss, while Loyola (La.) improves to (10-6, 5-4 SSAC) with the win. Elijah Staley led the way for the Roadrunners with a double-double, 21 points and 13 rebounds. Malik Pugh followed with 13 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. They were the only two players to score in double-figures on the night. Kingston Frazier had nine points and distributed the ball well picking up five assists.
 
Zach Wrightsil had a double-double to lead with Wolf Pack with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Myles Burns also had a double-double recording 16 points and 13 boards. Ethan Turner hit four three pointers to notch 12 points as the last Loyola player in double-figures.
 
The Roadrunners were better from the field overall than the Wolf Pack, 42.4%-39.4%, but only shot 34.29% (12-for-35) in the second half. Loyola countered by going 44.83% (13-for-29) in the last half to get the lead and hold on to it.
 
The battle on the glass went the way of the Wolf Pack, 46-42, with 18 coming on the offensive end. Loyola could only manage 14 second chance points off the offensive boards compared to the Roadrunners who had 17 second chance points off 14 offensive rebounds. Dalton State dominated in bench points 40-14, but lost the advantage in points off turnovers 14-8.
 
The Roadrunners will stay on the road and head to Hattiesburg, Miss. for a key SSAC matchup with #18 William Carey (Miss.) on Saturday, January 19. Tip-Off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. (CT).

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