The Loyola University (La.) men's basketball team put together a late rally in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) West Division opener against Jesuit-rival Spring Hill on Thursday night, but the Badgers would hold on for a 63-58 victory at the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center.
Loyola (7-7, 0-1 SSAC West) was up 28-25 at the break but could never get enough offense going in the second half as Spring Hill led by as much as 13 in the second period.
Trailing by five with less than a minute left, the Wolfpack got a 3-pointer from Corey Gray to make the score 60-58 with 34 seconds showing.
Spring Hill, who struggled from the line for most of the night at 52% (11-21), came through in the clutch, however, when SHC junior guard Steve Edwards of Newton, Miss., converted on 1-of-2 free throws with 23 seconds left on the clock to push the lead out to 61-58.
On the ensuing possession with 10 seconds remaining, Loyola's Robert Lovaglio put up a three that was off the mark and rebounded by the Badgers' freshman guard Charles Gordon of Birmingham, Ala., with just seven second showing. Edwards added two more free throws with 4 seconds left to ice the conference opener for both schools.
Although Spring Hill shot poorly from the line and behind the arc (2-of-10 for 20%), the Badgers finished the night shooting 51% (25-49) from the field. SHC had a 36-35 rebounding edge in part to senior center Nick Brown's game-high of 12 boards. Brown also scored 14 points for his sixth double-double of the season.
Loyola's Ryan Brock led all scorers with 17 points and Lovaglio came off the bench for 12 points as Richard Kohnke chipped in with nine points.
The Wolfpack's offense had troubles all night, shooting just 37% (23-62) from the field, 20% (5-25) from three and 54% (7-13) at the line.
Spring Hill (7-11, 0-1 SSAC West) continues conference play on Saturday afternoon at home in the Outlaw Recreation Center when the Auburn University Montgomery (AUM) Senators (3-10, 1-0 SSAC West) come to town for a 4 p.m. tipoff.
Loyola University (La.) Sports Information Dept. contributed to this story