Dillard power forward Demetric Austin had a sprained ankle and didn’t play in the Bleu Devils’ 17-point loss at Loyola on Feb. 2.
He played in the rematch Tuesday at Dillard, however.
Austin and point guard Dennis Hightower each scored 27 points, leading four players in double figures, and Dillard avenged the loss with a 93-80 nonconference victory at A.W. Dent Hall.
“Well, yeah, that was the difference,” Dillard coach Mike Newell said. “We shot the ball a lot better. And defensively, we hedged (on screens) and did a better job on (Loyola guard) Nick Parker this time.”
The victory gave the Bleu Devils (16-9) more wins this season than they had in the past four combined. Dillard also rebounded from a Gulf Coast Athletic Conference loss Saturday at Edward Waters and has lost three of its past four.
Loyola is 13-11. Guard Jalen Gray scored 16 points to lead four double-figure scorers.
Dillard took control of the game after Loyola center Nate Pierre was ejected from the game for continually bumping Bleu Devils forward Patrick Thompson as they were going down court with 9:22 left in the game. From that point, Dillard outscored Loyola (13-11) 17-8 in taking an 83-70 lead with 4:35 left.
“I didn’t think he should have been ejected, but I didn’t think that had anything to do with the outcome,” Loyola coach Stacy Howell said. “They made three 3-pointers. That was the difference.”
Guard Kristian Clark, who scored 13 points, sank two of the 3-pointers and Austin had one. Dillard led by at least 10 the rest of the way.
Howell said Dillard’s getting off to a good start was key.
Dillard led 43-37 at halftime, but after Loyola fought back from a 13-point lead in the last 9:50.
The Devils led 28-15 after Hightower drove for a basket. However, the Wolfpack went on a 13-4 run behind the inspiring athletic play of Griffin. The run was highlighted by two forward Nate Pierre’s two backdoor layups and a 3-pointer by forward Henry McDonald. Griffin’s tip-in with 5:18 showing brought the Wolfpack to 32-28.
Behind Hightower, who two baskets and had a steal and layup, the Devils led 43-42 with 9.2 seconds left.
Loyola, though, scored five points in the final 2.1 seconds. After Hightower’s basket, Gray drove the length of the floor, was fouled and made two free throws. Dillard’s Patrick Thompson then turned the ball over on a five-second inbounds call, and Loyola’s Ethan Turner sank a 3-pointer off an out-of-bounds play, cutting the margin to six.
Hightower and Austin each had 14 in the half, and Gray led Loyola with 12.