The Spring Hill College men's basketball team held off a frantic comeback attempt by Loyola-New Orleans to take a 69-65 conference win on Thursday night in the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center.
Spring Hill made its first six shots of the night to build out a 14-4 lead just 3½ minutes into the game, but Loyola responded to cut the badger advantage to just one point at 24-23 with 6:22 remaining in the half. The Badgers rallied and pushed back to a 38-32 lead at the half.
The Wolfpack showed why this game is one of the most heated rivalries in the South by charging out of the locker room to tie the game at 45 each off a Ryan Brock scoop shot layup with 14:39 showing on the clock. Loyola took only their second lead of the game 20 seconds later via two Cameron Cates free throws.
Spring Hill would wrestle back the momentum when junior center Nick Brown made a most improbable shot that resulted from him losing control of an offensive rebound but then slapped the ball back through the hoop for a 49-47 SHC lead.
Over the last two minutes of play, Loyola cut the Badger lead from 68-60 to 68-65, but Sean Bennett's open 3-point game-tying attempt rimmed out with just 6 seconds remaining. Brown would ice the game with a final free throw as SHC recorded the victory of its Jesuit rivals.
Senior Marcus Coleman finished with a game-high 24 points for the Badgers while Brown added 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Loyola was led by Torry Beaulieu with 17 points while Cates scored 14 points. Brock and Bennett each added 12 points.
SHC shot 44.6% (25-56) from the field and 40% (6-15) from 3-point land while Loyola was 42.4% (25-59) from the field and shot 20% (2-10) from 3-point territory.
The Wolfpack (13-15, 5-12 GCAC) was out-rebounded by SHC 41-33 while the Badgers turned the ball over 14 times and Loyola surrendered the ball 11 times.
Spring Hill (13-13, 7-10 GCAC) will next host the University of Mobile (16-9, 9-7 GCAC) on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the regular season finale for both squads. Before the game the Badgers will celebrate Senior Night in recognition of the Class of 2010.