Maryland, which entered this year's postseason unseeded for the first time since 2001, mustered 13 shots in the first half alone, including six within a four-minute stretch.
At 22:08, Jason Herrick set the drive in motion with a shot that was blocked. Townsend then lofted a ball over the backline, which nicked off the cross bar and dribbled down just short of the goal line. After a header by Ethan White was saved, Kaoru Forbess followed with rocket that was knuckled out by Greyhound keeper Kyle Wittman at 22:43. Townsend's chip shot 15 seconds later went over Wittman's head but was saved at the goal line by the Loyola backline. The drive ended with a pair of blocked shots by Herrick and Forbess before the ball was finally cleared.
Loyola (11-8-3) had its strongest chance at a goal in the first stanza with 9:34 elapsed. Phil Bannister broke free down the near sideline and set up a one-on-one scoring opportunity for the Greyhounds but his low strike was kick saved by a sliding Zac MacMath.
The defending national champions got on the board at 34:10 when Townsend back-heeled a ball through Herrick's legs and picked up the pass from Forbess on the near post for a 12-yard strike with his left foot. The Traverse City, Mich., native also scored Maryland's first goal of the 2008 NCAA Tournament when he netted the Terp's first score in a 2-0 victory against George Mason.
Billy Cortes helped set up what would be Maryland's game-winner when his cross rebounded off Wittman and shot out to Yates in the box. Yates shook two defenders and created enough shooting space to drive a short-range shot past Wittman for a 2-0 Maryland lead at 36:37.
Loyola cut the lead in half when Danny Ankrah served a ball from 45 yards out through to Bannister who finished the play with a goal from six yards.
Maryland outshot Loyola, 19-10, in the contest and remains undefeated when scoring the first goal of the game. The Terps are now 7-1 in NCAA first round matches under head coach Sasho Cirovski.
"I am very happy with the victory tonight," Cirovski said. "I thought our backline bent a little bit but didn't break. I was very happy to see our attack have a little bit of zip, particularly in the first half. That's what we hope to get.
"I want to congratulate Loyola. I think Mark (Mettrick) has done a fabulous job with that team and I think they fought until the final whistle."
Maryland advances to play No. 7 seed Penn State on Sunday at 1 p.m. at State College.