Feb. 9, 2013
CHICAGO - Troy Hambric hit two free throws with :00.1 seconds left for the 17th and final lead change of the afternoon to lift Loyola to a 79-78 win over Cleveland State at Gentile Arena. The win pushes Loyola to 8-13 (3-5 Horizon) while Cleveland State slides back to .500 (11-11, 3-6).
"It is definitely a tough situation," said Hambric. "My heart was racing and I just had to block it all out and focus."
Both teams got off to slow starts with neither team scoring for the first three minutes. Loyola went scoreless for the opening 4:23 before Monica Albano knocked down a three-pointer. Both teams slowly began to settle in and Cleveland State edged out to a 12-9 lead on a Haley Schmitt lay-up with just over nine minutes elapsed. Simone Law scored on a put-back to jumpstart a 9-0 Rambler run that gave the home team an 18-12 lead. Baskets from Taylor Johnson and Lyndsey Booker later gave LU its largest lead of the half (29-20) at the 4:21 mark but the Vikings chipped away as the Ramblers had to settle for a 38-35 lead at halftime.
Cleveland State opened the second half on fire from the three-point line to quickly erase the deficit. A Kiersten Green trey gave CSU a 44-42 lead and Cori Coleman and Albano traded threes later to forge a 49-49 deadlock just over five minutes into the half. Another Green three-pointer capped a 9-1 CSU run that gave the visitors an eight-point lead and Shalonda Winton extended it to 10 (66-56) with another long three. Loyola began to toughen up defensively, immediately cutting the deficit to six after hoops from Hambric and Law, but two Winton charity tosses upped the lead back to eight with 4:48 to go.
Loyola began its charge at that point, cutting the deficit to three after a three-point play by Law and an Ayrealle Beavers basket. After two CSU free throws, Johnson scored and Law followed up a Johnson miss to get the Ramblers within one (72-71) with 2:36 to play. Johnson scored again to give Loyola the lead and the teams traded baskets, essentially, the rest of the way. Johnson knocked down a pair from the line with 17 seconds left to put LU back on top but Winton answered with a tough runner to put the Vikings back on top.
The Ramblers eschewed the timeout and while Johnson's shot missed, Hambric grabbed the offensive rebound and scored while being fouled at the final buzzer. An official review showed her shot came just after the buzzer but the foul call came before time expired. Hambric, who hit a pair from the line with :00.5 left last season to beat San Francisco, calmly hit both to give the Ramblers the win.
Law, who had missed the previous six games, returned with a flourish, leading four Ramblers in double figures with 25 points (11-17 FGs). Johnson added 19 points and nine rebounds while Hambric (12 points, three blocks) and Albano (11) provided additional support. Winton led Cleveland State with 25 points.
Loyola wraps up its three-game homestand with a Wednesday night game against Valparaiso.