Loyola missed two free throws in the final minute of overtime and allowed Taft an uncontested layup at the buzzer in Friday’s 69-67 defeat in Chicago.
It was a snapshot into the things the Ramblers need to do better in order to win close games, Loyola head coach Tom Livatino said. It was Loyola’s fourth loss by two points or less and third in overtime.
“We aren’t learning our lessons,” Livatino said. “There are a few prerequisites for us to be good. We have to practice hard, play hard and win the intangibles.”
Loyola (5-5) finished 18-for-31 from the free throw line and lack of communication on Taft’s in-bounds play with 8.1 seconds remaining in overtime contributed to the loss.
“We deserved to lose,” Livatino said.
The game was tight throughout. The Eagles (4-6) held the biggest lead of the game when they went ahead 57-49 with 1 minute, 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
But Loyola senior guard Ramar Evans led the comeback. He scored eight points of his game-best 26 points in the last 1:31 to help send the game to overtime.
“Ramar was locked in all game,” Livatino said.
Evans scored the first points of overtime and senior forward Matt Sechman hit two free throws to give the Ramblers a 65-61 lead. But Evans picked up his fourth and fifth foul while Taft went on a 6-0 run.
Loyola tied the game at 67-all on a free throw by senior forward Julian DeGuzman, but the Ramblers couldn’t get a stop on the other end. Taft senior guard Abdullah Ahmad slipped behind the defense and received a lob from senior guard Stefan Domic for the game-winning layup.
Senior guard Matt Lynch scored 10 points and had three assists. DeGuzman finished with seven points. Sechman had two points, six rebounds and two blocks.
The Ramblers remained winless in three games away from home.