NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Spring Hill College men's basketball team lost a 67-65 conference nail-biter at longtime rival Loyola University (La.) in The Den on Thursday night.
The Badgers took a quick 11-6 lead over the Wolfpack (9-5, 2-4 SSAC), but Loyola tied the game at 11 with 13:19 on the first half clock. From there the teams would match each other basket-for-basket over the next eight minutes before Loyola clawed out a 24-19 advantage with four minutes to go before the half.
A critical 10-0 outburst by Loyola built a 28-19 cushion for the home team with 1½ minutes left until the break as Loyola would carry a 31-25 spread into the halftime locker rooms.
Just two minutes into the second half, Spring Hill cut the score to a 33-29 Loyola bulge before the Wolfpack went on a 12-2 sprint that made the score 45-31 with 12 minutes to play.
Spring Hill responded with an 8-0 run that sliced Loyola's lead to 45-39 with 10:30 remaining.
After another Loyola run made it 52-41, the Badgers re-grouped once again to mount a 9-1 run that was capped by a turnaround jumper by freshman forward Frederick Gatson of Riverdale, Ga., to make it 53-51 in favor of the Wolfpack at 6:19.
The Wolfpack would build out a 61-52 advantage, but the momentum would once again swing back the Badgers favor when senior guard Tyler Schwab of Panama City, Fla., drained a 3-pointer and Gatson scored on the inside to cut it to a 67-63 Loyola lead with just 8.8 seconds left.
Loyola would miss two free throws on the other end of the gym, but despite a Badger bucket as the horn sounded, the Wolfpack was able to hold on for a razor thin 67-65 victory.
For SHC, freshman center Jake Thelen of Edgewood, Ky., scored 22 points with 10 rebounds and senior guard Stephen Burches of Hammond, La., added 17 points.
Spring Hill shot 41% (25-61) from the field and 27.3% (12-20) from 3-point range, but lost 20 turnovers against just six steals by Loyola. The Badgers out-rebounded the Wolfpack 40-33 on the night.
Corey Gray paced the Wolfpack with 23 points as Cameron Cates scored 13 points with seven rebounds and Kyle Simmons contributed 11 points.
Loyola converted on 24-of-52 shots from the field (46.2%) and was 4-of-16 (25%) from behind the arc. The Wolfpack lost 18 turnovers as the Badgers stole the ball nine times.
Spring Hill (8-6, 3-4 SSAC) now travels to Montgomery for a conference bout with the Auburn University Montgomery (AUM) Warhawks (3-11, 1-6 SSAC) at the AUM P.E. Complex in a 4 p.m. tipoff.