Men’s Basketball Loses Heartbreaking Double Overtime Thriller in A-10 Quarterfinal

After the game, Valentine said this doesn’t define the season and that he is proud of his group.

The Loyola men’s basketball team came up short in a heartbreaking 75-74 loss against St. Bonaventure in a back-and-forth quarterfinal matchup at the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championship that went into double overtime. 

Fourth-year forward Philip Alston was the leading scorer for the Ramblers finishing with 22 points and eight rebounds. Loyola’s big men made a big impact as graduate forward Dame Adelekun dropped a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and first-year center Miles Rubin scored 12 points. Fourth-year guard Daryl Banks III led the Bonnies in scoring and was crucial down the stretch, finishing with 22 points and eight rebounds. 

The second-seeded Ramblers finished the regular season 23-8 overall and 14-3 in conference while the seventh-seeded Bonnies wrapped up their campaign 19-12 and 9-9 in A-10 play. In their only regular season meeting, St. Bonaventure got the best of Loyola, taking the win 79-64 Feb. 27.

Loyola head coach Drew Valentine credited St. Bonaventure on playing a tough and physical game.

“It was a gritty, intense college basketball game where it looked like two teams really, really wanted to win,” he said.

Rubin got the game going after graduate guard Braden Norris found him in the lane for an open lay in. Alston made two free throws before fourth-year guard Sheldon Edwards pushed the pace and dropped in a layup in transition to give the Ramblers a quick 6-0 lead. 

The Bonnies responded with quick scores by graduate guard Mika Adams-Woods and third-year center Noel Brown. Adelekun received a good feed setting him up for an easy layin in the paint and Alston connected from beyond the arc to put Loyola up 11-4. 

Alston made a tough shot cutting across the paint and fourth-year guard Sheldon Edwards drained a 3-pointer, extending Loyola’s first half lead to 19-9. Graduate guard Braden Norris hit a three off an inbounds pass, and Rubin made a shot in the lane as the Ramblers stormed ahead to a 24-9. 

St. Bonaventure showed flashes on offense including when second-year forward Barry Evans threw a no-look bounce pass through his legs setting up Adams-Woods underneath to make it 24-13.

Third-year guard Des Watson chimed in with a 3-pointer before second-year Bonnie forward Assa Essamvous made one of his own, cutting the Rambler lead to ten at 28-18. Essamvous hit a mid-range jumper before Alston made a 3-pointer as the final seconds in the first half ticked away, giving Loyola a 31-22 lead going into the break.

Rubin started the second half with two dunks, one off a feed from Watson and the second coming on a fast break to make it 35-24. Banks III made two at the charity stripe then Brown scored from the block whilst drawing a Rubin foul, he made the free throw to cut the Loyola lead to 37-31. 

The Ramblers held on to their lead at 41-33 thanks in part to Adelekun after he posted up to score from underneath the basket and an inbound pass set Alston up for an open dunk. 

The squads traded buckets back-and-forth as second-year guard Jalen Quinn made a big impact scoring five straight points — he beat his man on the wing and reached the rim before he hit a floater to keep the Rambler lead in double digits at 51-40. 

Loyola fouls gave St. Bonaventure three trips to the line, allowing them to go on a 6-0 run to make it 51-46. Alston made two free throws of his own before a Loyola steal set up Edwards for a fast break slam as the Ramblers took a 55-46 lead. 

Edward’s dunk came with seven minutes left in the half and would be the last Loyola field goal of regulation as an offensive drought struck the team. 

Evans energized the Bonnies’ fans in the Barclays Center with a 3-pointer before Banks III went two for two at the line, cutting the Rambler lead to just six at 58-52 with three minutes to play. Quinn fouled Banks III on a 3-point attempt and he made all three to make it a one-possession game with two minutes left. 

After Adelekun missed a post shot, Brown received a feed under the basket while scoring through an Adelekun foul, sending him to the line for the and-one. Brown tied the game at 58 with a minute remaining.

Adelekun drove into the paint and lost his footing and the ball — it was ruled out of bounds on St. Bonaventure, giving Loyola possession with four seconds on the shot clock. Norris missed a 3-pointer in the corner but it fell to Adelekun who kicked it back out to Watson. 

Watson drove the lane but couldn’t finish. Adelekun fought hard for the offensive rebound before a jump ball was called. The arrow favored the Ramblers, giving them possession with 14 seconds left in regulation. 

Quinn drove into the paint a shot a floater which bounced in and out, followed by an Adams-Woods half-court heave as time expired. It was well short, setting up an overtime period to decide which side would advance. 

Banks III gave St. Bonaventure their first lead of the game as he scored the first points in overtime with two free throws. On the next play, he stripped Quinn and took it all the way to put his team up 62-58. Watson drew a foul and went one for two at the line before Quinn set up Alston underneath for a dunk, making it 62-61 and ending the Ramblers 10 minute drought from the field. 

Alston slammed home another one on the next possession, giving Loyola a one-point lead before Banks III drained a pull-up three giving his team a 65-63 advantage with 25 seconds left in the period.

Loyola went inside to Alston who drew a foul. He missed both attempts but got his own rebound and dunked it to tie the game with 14 seconds to play. Adams-Woods airballed a three at the buzzer setting up a second overtime.

Adams-Woods started the period with two free throws before Watson made one to give the Bonnies a 69-68 lead. It stayed a one point game after Brown and Adelekun both went two for two at the stripe. 

Banks III made it a two-possession game with a pull-up 3-pointer, then Quinn fired a pass inside, allowing Rubin to finish with a dunk making it 72-70. On the next Loyola possession, Adelekun tied it up after getting beneath the basket and posting up. 

With just under 30 seconds left, Adelekun drew a foul going up on the block and made both free throws. Loyola led 74-72. After a pump fake, Banks III drew a foul while shooting a three and with just 12 seconds to go he made all three free throws to give his team the lead.

Watson got up a deep three at the buzzer but it was off the mark, as the Bonnies advanced to the semifinals while the Ramblers tournament run came to an end. 

After the game, Valentine said the loss doesn’t define the Ramblers’ season and that he is proud of his group and how they competed all season.

“Obviously coaches get the credit for how teams grow, but I’ve been really quick to give credit to the team and our leadership because they’re the reason why we’re in the position,” he said. “They could have went against what I was trying to do when we were 6-5 when we lost to South Florida and that was considered a bad loss. But they didn’t, we changed up a couple of things, what we we’re doing, offensively, defensively, and they bought into it.”

Featured image by Austin Hojdar / The Phoenix

Griffin Krueger

Griffin Krueger

Griffin Krueger is the Editor-in-Chief of The Phoenix. He began working for The Phoenix during his first week at Loyola and previously served as Assistant News Editor and Sports Editor. Krueger is a fourth-year Political Science major with minors in Economics and History. In his free time he enjoys reading and exploring the city on his bike.