Loyola (Md.) punches just its second-ever ticket to Big Dance

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Jimmy Patsos has been a bartender, a high school assistant and a key recruiter and right-hand man to a national title team. He’s used trick defenses that backfired, coached from the stands and the MAAC coach of the year.

And now? He’s an NCAA tournament coach. Good on ya, Jimmy.

Patsos watched as his Loyola (Md.) squad rallied past Fairfield 48-44 in the MAAC title game for the school’s second-ever NCAA tournament berth. The only other time was in 1994 under Skip Prosser.

The Greyhounds (24-8) finished second in the MAAC this season, but when top seed Iona lost Sunday, it gave them a chance to step in. And step in they did.

The team traded leads throughout the first half, then the Greyhounds frustrated Fairfield to start the second with an 11-1 run. Fairfield didn’t make its second basket until almost 10 minutes were gone. That helped them overcome a slight deficit and weather some offensive issues of their own down the stretch.

“I said, `We are going to take it up a notch and we are going to press on every make,”‘ Patsos said. “We are going full force. It’s time. Not that there is anything wrong with pacifism or middle-of-the-road intellectualism, but I said, `It’s time for anger.”‘

They held Fairfield (19-14) to just 28.8 percent shooting and forced 12 turnovers, one ever five possessions. That helped offset a tough day from Dylon Cormier (seven points below his average). Forward Erik Etherly (tied with Cormier for the team scoring lead) was a little better with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Even if it wasn’t pretty, Patsos can enjoy the win. Maybe even enjoy a few cold ones at The Third Edition.

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