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4 takeaways from Loyola’s overtime win against Colgate

Loyola Maryland’s overtime win was an instant classic

NCAA Basketball: Loyola-Maryland at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

On a nationally-televised stage, Loyola (MD) and Colgate faced off in a game that turned into an instant classic.

First-year head coach Tavaras Hardy is coaching a smart but tough Greyhounds team that are improving as the season progresses. Meanwhile, Colgate coach Matt Langel is trying to repeat his success from last season, in which he was named 2018 Patriot League Coach of the Year and the Raiders went 12-6 in Patriot League play. This season, his team is still competitive and are in the upper half of the conference standings.

Loyola is pretty much in the same boat in terms of the Patriot League standings, especially after today’s game. Both teams got hot in the second half and the score was close for most of the game. Will Rayman tied the game as the clock went out, sending the game into overtime. Colgate’s magic would stop there, as Loyola went on an 11-4 run during the extra period.

Loyola’s win broke a five-game losing streak against Colgate and tied both teams at 4-4 in the Patriot League.

Here’s some takeaways from the Colgate’s 79-72 overtime win:

Andrew Kostecka is one of the top players in the Patriot League

I’ve watched Loyola four times this season and Andrew Kostecka has been consistently good. He played more of a supporting role toda, but his impact always matters for the Greyhounds. He’s scored in double figures 19 out of 21 times so far this season.

Kostecka has been on fire in conference play. Against both meetings with Holy Cross this season, he scored 29 points on Jan. 3, then scored 26 points on the Jan. 24 rematch. Even first-place Bucknell has felt his wrath: He scored 26 points for the Greyhounds in their close 71-68 loss.

What’s interesting about Kostecka is that he’s completed doubled his scoring output from last season. He’s very smart with the ball and his shooting release is flawless — the latter of which is a huge reason why he’s the Patriot League’s top scorer.

EmphaInterior scoring and rebounding is the game-plan for Colgate

Jump shots were a major proponent of this game, but Colgate’s paint attack kept them in the game. They scored 44 points in the paint against Loyola. Dana Bett benefited immensely from this. He scored 18 points, mostly in the paint. The Raiders offense was efficient as well, shooting 52% from the floor during the contest.

Coming into this game, the Raiders also ranked second in the Patriot League in terms of rebounding. Their 37.3 rebounds per game and +3.7 rebounding margin is rather impressive and helps them in the long run. Rapolas Ivanauskas and Will Rayman both ranks within the top five in the conference in rebounding.

Tavaras Hardy is slowly building something special

“Tavaras is not only well-equipped to handle the on-court aspects of being a head coach, but he will lead and grow his student-athletes in every aspect of life. He is a tireless recruiter, as well as a terrific on-court coach.” John Thompson III, former Georgetown University Head Coach

Tavaras Hardy was named head coach of Loyola last March. Before this stop, he has coached at Georgia Tech, Georgetown, and Northwestern. Hardy is known for his amazing recruiting and ability to develop players to reach their full potential. He’s been apart of multiple top-ranked recruiting classes as an assistant coach and recruiter, so his results are proven.

What’s also been proven this season is that Hardy is developing something special. The Hounds have nearly won as many conference games as they did season with over a full month of conference play to go.

His core group of players is extremely talented and all can take over games when needed. This core includes Chuck Champion — who led the team in scoring with 19 points — Isaiah Hart, Jaylin Andrews, James Fives and KaVaughn Scott. Not to be overlooked, freshman Kenneth Jones exploded for 16 points off the bench for the Hounds against Colgate. Jones has gotten minutes all season and he’s blooming under the Patriot League lights.

And yet, the Greyhounds will probably be a lot better by the end of conference play.

”It’s going to be some learning, growth and opportunities to get better,” Hardy said, after the Colgate game, giving yet another examples of how he can develop players and execute with almost any group of players.

These two teams will meet again

Thursday, March 7.

On this day, the Quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament will be played and the top four seeds in the league will have a home playoff game. As it stands, both Loyola and Colgate can host one of those games. Because of this, Colgate’s win could be crucial for potential tiebreakers.

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. These two teams will match up again on Feb. 2 at Colgate. Expect some dramatics.