At the shootaround before his team’s season opening game at DePaul on Monday, Loyola (Md.) coach Tavaras Hardy drained a shot from halfcourt.
Hardy’s Greyhounds then took their best shot at the Blue Demons but came up narrowly short in a 72-66 defeat.
On Thursday night, Loyola (0-1) of the Patriot League gets another chance to pull off a long shot victory over a power conference school as it travels to State College, Pa., to face Penn State (1-0) of the Big Ten.
Shooting from distance was the theme of the Nittany Lions’ opening-game win on Monday night as they made a single-game record 18 3-pointers in a 93-68 romp over Winthrop.
Bucknell transfer Andrew Funk delivered in his Nittany Lions debut, hitting 6-of-10 shots from 3-point range on his way to scoring 22 points.
Funk teamed in the backcourt with a pair of holdovers. Jalen Pickett went 3 of 6 from distance on his way to scoring 23 points, and Myles Dread hit 4 of 6 long-range tries to account for all of his 12 points.
With newfound depth on the perimeter, Penn State also sported a different look, applying more defensive pressure. The Nittany Lions forced 17 turnovers and turned them into 28 points.
“We’re not pressing. We’re not in passing lanes. We’re not overdoing it,” Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “We just want to be solid and disciplined in our spots, and that’s when good things happen for you. That’s when you get deflections when you’re in the right spot.”
Is this the right spot for Loyola to pull off an upset?
On Monday at DePaul, the Greyhounds hung close throughout as Kenneth Jones matched his career high with 20 points and Jaylin Andrews added 12 points.
Jones and Andrews are Loyola’s trusted backcourt leaders, key pieces on the team since Hardy’s first year in 2018-19. The frontcourt is led by three-year starter Golden Dike, who had nine points and 11 rebounds.
The rest of the team is young and untested. In his college debut, point guard Deon Perry looked like a solid fit with 13 points while going 3 of 6 from 3-point range. Jones was 4 of 7 from distance.
“We have 10 freshmen and sophomores that we expect to play,” Hardy said. “And so that’s a young group that’s going to grow and develop but they’re talented and I think we’ll get there.”
– Field Level Media