BALTIMORE, Md. — This time of year in college hoops, you know you’re in for some magic.
"It’s March," said Loyola guard Jaylin Andrews. "It’s a time when anything can happen."
Like ninth-seeded Loyola University upsetting top-seeded Navy in the Patriot League Tournament 76-68 in Annapolis on Saturday in the quarterfinals. The conference’s leading scorer and rebounder, Santi Aldama, had 15 points and 12 boards. The Boys’ Latin grad Andrews scored a team-high 17-points.
"I can’t even explain the energy," Andrews said about the feeling on the sideline when the win was sealed. "All of us were just so excited because we knew this was how we’re capable of playing."
"We know, everyone knows, we have the talent. We just had to get the pieces in place, put the work in," said Loyola Head Coach Tavaras Hardy. "No offense to anyone else, we’re not the ninth best team in our conference."
Loyola entered the tournament 4-10 overall and 1-5 in conference. Of their ten losses, seven were by four points or less.
Does Hardy feel like his team has been overlooked as they enter the most critical point of the season?
"In a lot of ways, when you look at the record, deservingly so," he laughed. "But we’ve never lost focus."
Next up is the program’s first appearance in the Patriot League semifinal since joining the conference in 2013-14. The Greyhounds visit fourth-seeded Army on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
One upset in the books. Two more to go dancing.
"We believe that anything can happen," said Andrews. "We try not to dream [about qualifying for the NCAA Tournament] during these times and not to look too far ahead and just focus on the opponent that’s next."
The last time the Greyhounds played in a conference semifinal was the last time they made the NCAA Tournament - 2012 - when Loyola won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.