Senior guard Kevin Cunningham and senior forward Pete Mangan did what captains do in Tuesday’s 40-37 win over Notre Dame at home in the fifth annual CCL/ESCC Conference Challenge.
Cunningham scored 12 of his team-best 15 points in the second half to go with three rebounds, two assists and one steal. His two free throws with 10.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter secured Loyola’s fourth consecutive victory.
Meanwhile, Mangan carried the Ramblers in the first half, scoring all 10 of his points in the first two quarters. He had eight points and one assist in the second quarter that allowed Loyola to build a 19-10 lead at the half. Mangan also totaled seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“Petey Mangan and Kevin Cunningham willed us to the win,” Loyola head coach Tom Livatino said. “That’s what we expect, and that’s what they do.”
Loyola (6-1) led by 15 with 5 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter before Notre Dame (3-4) came charging back. The Dons got within one, 38-37, with 25.1 seconds to go.
Cunningham then calmly made two free throws after a timeout, and the Ramblers denied the Dons a good look at a potential game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds.
“I want to be there,” Cunningham said of taking important shots. “I’m confident I can knock those down.”
Cunningham said “it got a little rough there at the end,” but he was impressed by the way the Ramblers were able to close out the game.
“I am really proud of how we fought and found a way to win,” he said. “This was a big game.”
Notre Dame led 10-7 after the first quarter, but Loyola held the Dons scoreless for the final 10:42 of the first half to go into intermission ahead 19-10.
“Pete lit a spark under us in the first half,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham started the third with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and added another one with 1:39 left in the quarter to help the Ramblers go into the fourth up 30-20.
In the final quarter, Cunningham made two free throws to increase the advantage to 36-21. After junior guard Connor Barrett’s layup at the 4:59 mark, the Ramblers went scoreless until Cunningham’s free throws with 10.8 seconds to go.
Barrett finished with 10 points.
“We have not had a bad game defensively, but our offense is a big-time work in progress,” Livatino said.
Loyola opens the Catholic Blue schedule Friday on the road against St. Rita.