Loyola, Md. struggles, falls to Ohio State 78-59

JIM O'CONNELL AP Basketball Writer Published:

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Loyola, Md. coach Jimmy Patsos had a special coaching moment at the end of a loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Minutes after the 15th-seeded Greyhounds had been manhandled on the boards in a 78-59 loss to No. 2 Ohio State on Thursday night, Patsos talked about an unselfish act by one of his seniors.

"We're going to miss Shane Walker," Patsos said, referring to his 6-foot-10 forward. "Anybody wonders why I put Luke Wandrusch in? Shane Walker comes over to me and says, 'Put Luke Wandrusch in.' He's our walk-on. His parents make us brownies every trip. They're the best brownies ever, so I put him in because I like brownies.

"Shane Walker three years ago would never have said that. He came over and said put Luke Wandrusch in the game. We're down like 16. 'Come on, Coach, put him in.' I'm worried about losing Shane Walker."

Patsos, in his eighth season at Loyola, has been the architect of a program that went from 1-27 the year before he got there to a school-record 24 wins this season.

The Greyhounds were the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions and were making their second NCAA tournament appearance and first since 1994.

"I think this is the beginning," guard Dylon Cormier said. "This is our first year making the tournament in a long time, so we look forward to making it next year and the year after."

Ohio State used its size advantage to dominate the Greyhounds the way a No. 2 seed is expected to handle a 15 seed.

The Buckeyes made sure there wouldn't be a second scare at the Consol Energy Center.

Deshaun Thomas scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds -- one off his career best -- to lead Ohio State.

That was far different from top-seeded Syracuse's 72-65 victory over North Carolina-Asheville, a game that had many thinking it could be the first time a No. 16 seed beat a No. 1.

"Obviously this tournament is about advancing, and that's what we did tonight," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "I don't think we played at the level we need to. Our guys know that. Give Loyola a ton of credit for that. They came at us."

William Buford had 17 points and Jared Sullinger added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Buckeyes (28-7), who dominated the smaller Greyhounds inside, finishing with a 49-24 rebound advantage.

"Deshaun was excellent on the boards and also scoring the basketball," Sullinger said. "He pretty much carried this team. I don't think we would have won it without him."

Ohio State will play seventh-seeded Gonzaga in the third round Saturday. The Bulldogs beat 10th-seeded West Virginia 77-54.

"We got to get ourselves ready to go," Matta said. "Obviously with what Gonzaga did tonight, we got another great challenge on Saturday."

The Buckeyes, who were ranked in the top 10 all season and were a tri-champion of the Big Ten in the regular season, twice took a 15-point lead in the first half and then led by as many as 20 -- 70-50 on a basket by Thomas with 5:34 to play.

Erik Etherly had 19 points for the Greyhounds (24-9).

"To play Ohio State, one of the best teams in the country, you're not going to win that game without having everything go right. We didn't have everything go right," Patsos said. "We played hard and competed, and the guys had a great experience."

Loyola was one of two MAAC teams to make the tournament -- only the second time it has done that -- and the other was Iona, which set a tournament record by blowing a 25-point lead in a 78-72 loss to BYU in the opening round.

"I'm proud of my kids for playing," Patsos said. "We set a school record for wins. The MAAC had two teams going to the NCAA. We're not growing just as a program, but I think the league is growing."