MAAC Tournament 2012: Loyola Beats Fairfield 48-44, Secures NCAA Tournament Bid

After an 18-year absence, Loyola University Maryland is back in the NCAA Tournament.

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2012 MAAC Tournament Championship Game: Loyola Beats Fairfield 48-44, Makes NCAA Tournament For First Time Since 1994

After an 18-year absence, Loyola University Maryland is back in the NCAA Tournament. The Greyhounds secured their first Big Dance berth since 1994 with a 48-44 win over Fairfield in the MAAC championship game in Springfield, Mass.

After trailing 30-26 at halftime, the Greyhounds scored the first nine points of the second half and never trailed again. Fairfield only scored 14 points in the second 20 minutes as the game degenerated into a scrappy, sloppy affair.The Greyhounds had a 47-44 lead with three minutes to play, but the only field goal the rest of the game was a Desmond Wade three-pointer that made the score 47-44. The Stags had two chances to tie the game, but three-point attempts by Ryan Olander and Rakim Sanders missed. Shane Walker hit the front end of a 1-and-1 with 2.8 seconds to provide the final margin.

Erik Etherly finished the game with 10 points to lead Loyola in scoring. Fairfield was led by Sanders and Olander, who scored 12 and 11 points, respectively. Maurice Barrow added 10 points in a losing effort for the Stags.

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MAAC Championship Game 2012: Fairfield Rallies From Early Deficit, Leads Loyola 30-26 At Halftime

After leading by as many as seven points early in the first half, Loyola (Md.) allowed Fairfield University to end the first half on a 21-10 run. The Stags lead 30-26 at halftime of the 2012 MAAC Championship Game in Springfield, Mass.

The Greyhounds got off to a good early start and took a 16-9 lead on a three-pointer by Anthony Winbush midway through the first half. But Fairfield responded by scoring the next seven points to tie the game and the rest of the half was a nip-and-tuck affair.

Fairfield retook the lead at 21-20 with 4:07 remaining on a jumper by Maurice Barrow with just over four minutes to play and held it going into halftime.

Rakim Sanders leads all scorers with 10 points for the Stags, while Ryan Olander has chipped in with nine points. For Loyola, Erik Ertherly, Justin Drummond, and Winbush all have six points each.

With a win, Loyola would receive just its second NCAA bid and first since 1994.

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MAAC Championship Game 2012: Fairfield Vs. Loyola TV Schedule

Teams from the MAAC Conference don't normally get at large bids into the NCAA Tournament, and this year will be no different. The only team that will get to Dance from this Conference will come out of the Championship game tonight, which pits Fairfield against Loyola of Maryland.

These two teams split the Season series, with the most recent contest being 68-51 victory for the Fairfield Stags at Loyola on February 12th. Fairfield will probably have the home court advantage seeing as their school is only about 90 minutes from the arena in Springfield, while Loyola fans will have to travel halfway up the East Coast.

Here is all the information you need to find the game tonight.

Game Date/Time: Monday, March 5th, 7 p.m. ET

Venue: MassMutual Center, Springfield, Massachusetts

TV: ESPN2, ESPN3

We'll have plenty more on this game throughout the day on SB Nation D.C., but you can head over to the SB Nation College Basketball hub page for more information.

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MAAC Tournament 2012: Loyola Defeats Siena, Advances To Championship Game

Erik Etherly scored 21 points while Shane Walker and Robert Olson added 12 each as Loyola (Md.) advanced to the championship game of the 2012 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament

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