With his future college coach in attendance Friday, Loyola senior guard Ramar Evans put on an unforgettable second-half show that carried the Ramblers to a 60-59 overtime win over St. Joseph at home in the Catholic North.
While Evans made two free throws with five seconds remaining in overtime to provide the final margin, it was what he did leading up to them that made his performance legendary.
Evans scored seven points in the final 1:14 of the fourth quarter to rally the Ramblers (11-5, 4-1) from an eight-point deficit. His two free throws with four seconds left sent the game into OT.
There, Evans scored eight of his team’s 10 points. His steal and layup with 28 seconds on the clock gave Loyola its first lead of the game at 58-57. After St. Joseph (7-7, 3-2) scored on the other end, Evans drew a foul and hit the game-winning free throws.
“It’s not that tough,” Evans said of his clutch performance from the free throw line. “I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. This is what I live for. It’s much easier when your teammates are cheering for you. Everybody has my back.”
Evans, who has signed with Maryville University in St. Louis, scored a career-high 27 points and had 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block. Kevin Carroll, the Saints head coach, was at Loyola to witness arguably Evans’ best game in his three varsity seasons.
[Carroll] has to be really excited,” Loyola head coach Tom Livatino said. “Ramar is a winner. He steps up and makes plays.”
As he’s prone to do, Evans deflected attention away from himself. He said the two charges taken by senior forward Julian DeGuzman in the fourth and OT were more important than any points he scored. Both charges led to baskets by Evans. The second charge sent St. Joseph’s best player, sophomore guard Marquise Walker, to the bench with five fouls.
“Those were momentum swings,” Evans said. “Those are tough-man plays.”
Loyola struggled in the first half and went into intermission down 19-13. The Ramblers trailed 40-32 after three and fell behind by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter.
“Earlier in the season, we were finding ways to lose,” Evans said. “Lately, we’ve been finding ways to win.”
The Ramblers won for the first time in four overtime games this season. Four of their five losses have been by a combined seven points.
Cunningham scored 18 points and went 4-for-12 from 3-point range. DeGuzman finished with five points, four rebounds and two charges. Loyola went 13-for-22 on free throws, but the Ramblers were 5-for-6 from the line in OT.
Fenwick maintained its hold on first place in the conference with its 75-40 win over Providence-St. Mel on Friday. DePaul beat St. Francis 59-29 on Friday to remain tied for second place. The Rams own the tiebreaker over the Ramblers with their 61-60 victory.