Rockets Fall to Loyola (IL) on Buzzer Shot, 57-55
TOLEDO, OH - Toledo (6-3) let a 14-point second-half lead slip away on Saturday afternoon as Loyola (IL) pulled out a 57-55 victory over the Rockets in Savage Arena. Junior F Ben Averkamp hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer for the Ramblers (2-7) to cap off a bizarre finish.
After freshman G Julius Brown evened the contest at 55-55 with 36 seconds remaining, sophomore F Reese Holliday blocked Averkamp's jumper with three seconds left. UT gained possession when Loyola F Bill Clark stepped out of bounds with 1.2 seconds remaining after grabbing the rebound.
Sophomore Matt Smith's ensuing in-bounds pass then hit off the scoreboard and went out of bounds giving the visitors the ball underneath their basket. Averkamp then hit a 15-footer over Smith's out-stretched arms at the buzzer to snap his team's six-game losing streak.
Averkamp finished the contest with a career-high 31 points and seven rebounds and helped the Ramblers register a 36-27 advantage on the boards. Averkamp was the only player in double figures with freshman G Christian Thomas scoring nine points and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds.
Sophomore G Rian Pearson paced the Rockets with 20 points and seven rebounds with Brown scoring 13 points along with a game-high seven assists.
Toledo posted a 43.5 field-goal percentage in the contest, while Loyola connected on 43.5 percent of its shots. UT also registered a season-low 55 points, eight free throws and 11 free-throw attempts in the contest.
UT started the contest slowly as the Ramblers jumped out to a 17-9 advantage in the first 10 minutes. The Rockets then heated up from behind the three-point arc, scoring 17 straight points with five straight treys capping off the spurt. Toledo took a 33-25 lead when junior G Dominique Buckley ended the half with a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Rockets expanded their cushion to 42-28 on Smith's layup just over three minutes into the second stanza. The Ramblers chipped away at their deficit though and regained the lead at 54-53 with 58 seconds left on Thomas' three-point play. Sophomore G Denzel Brito then made one of two free throws with 46 seconds to play to set up the game's disappointing ending.
Toledo will now take a week off with final exams before returning to action on Saturday, Dec. 17 against Youngstown State. Tip-off time from Savage Arena is set for 7:00 p.m.