Rambler buzzer beater named SportsCenter top play

Ramblers celebrate Courtney Stanley's buzzer beater. Loyola Athletics photo.
Courtney Stanley’s last second three-pointer against UIC not only led the Rambler men’s basketball team to a 67-66 victory on Wednesday, but it also made the ESPN SportsCenter play of the day.

Loyola’s athletic site has a recap of the game:

Courtney Stanley’s three-pointer from the right wing as the horn sounded at the end of the overtime period sent visiting Loyola University Chicago (15-12, 6-10 Horizon) to a 67-66 victory over UIC (7-21, 2-14 Horizon) tonight at the UIC Pavilion. The win is the Ramblers’ second straight overall, and fourth in a row against their city rival, while the buzzer-beating shot is the second of Stanley’s career.

Loyola got off to a sluggish start, falling behind 15-5 in the opening 7:30 of the game before the offense got rolling. A lay-up by Terrance Hill started a 16-4 Rambler run that was punctuated by a Stanley lay-up, which gave Loyola its first lead of the night, at 21-19.

Despite being out-rebounded 21-15 and turning the ball over seven times in the opening period, the Ramblers took a 27-25 lead into the locker room at the half.

Geoff McCammon began the second half with his fourth three-pointer of the night to ignite a half-opening, 15-7 run for Loyola. The Ramblers led by as many as 11 points (49-38), but the Flames refused to go away, continuously chipped away at their deficit and a pair of free throws by Brad Birton with 2:28 remaining in regulation gave UIC a 54-53 advantage, its first since the 7:00 mark of the first half.

After the teams exchanged baskets, Dipanjot Singh nailed a three-pointer from the left wing after picking up a loose ball to give the Flames a 59-57 advantage with 54 seconds to play. Each team then committed a turnover before Hill drew a foul driving to the basket and calmly drained both foul shots with five seconds remaining to tie the game and force overtime.

The overtime period was a back-and-forth affair. Hill hit two free throws with 1:09 left to give Loyola a 64-63 lead, but 18 seconds later Birton split a pair of free tosses to even the contest. Singh came up with a clutch shot in the closing seconds yet again, this one from the corner in front of the Flames’ bench with four seconds left in overtime. Following an officials’ review to determine whether Singh’s foot was behind the three-point line, it was ruled a two-pointer, thus giving UIC a 66-64 lead.

Loyola used its final timeout to draw up a play. Faced with going the length of the floor, Hill in-bounded the ball to Andy Polka, who then got the ball back into Hill’s hands. The senior guard quickly pushed the ball up the court and found Stanley waiting on the right wing for a long three-pointer at the buzzer to give Loyola a thrilling win in its first overtime game of the season.

The buzzer-beater was the second of Stanley’s career and first since his desperation shot from halfcourt, as he was falling out of bounds, beat Bradley in December 2009. The junior point guard matched a season high, set in the previous meeting between the Ramblers and Flames last month, with 13 points.

McCammon, who had another monster game against a city rival, tallied a game-high 23 points, knocking down 9-of-14 shots from the field overall, including all five of his triple tries. He has hit 20 of his last 27 three-point attempts against UIC and his 74 treys this year is one shy of equaling Derek Molis’ single-season school record set in 1996-97.

Hill produced 16 points, hitting four clutch free throws in pressure situations, and added five rebounds and a pair of assists for the Ramblers.

Paul Carter led UIC with 19 points, while the Rambler defense did an admirable job on the Flames’ top scorer, Robo Kreps, who hit just 3-of-14 shots from the field and finished with eight points.

Loyola steps out of conference play to host Saint Peter’s on Saturday (Feb. 19) at 2 p.m. Four Rambler seniors – Hill, McCammon, Polka and Ryan Sterling – will be honored prior to tip-off in their final home game at the Gentile Center.

-Elizabeth Noel

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