Clutch Loyola hangs on late
Updated: January 16, 2013 2:32PM
WILMETTE — As he caught the ball at the left elbow, Loyola guard Jack Morrissey quickly surveyed the defense in front of him. He saw St. Patrick guard Nicholas Coleman charging toward him, so Morrissey pump faked, allowing Coleman to jump right past into no-mans land.
Then, as he scanned the lane that was packed with Shamrock defenders, Morrisey stepped back, narrowly getting both his feet behind the 3-point line before launching an arching shot that swished softly through the net. The shot gave Loyola a seven-point lead with 6:56 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Morrissey’s 3-ball ended up being the last field goal the host Ramblers would make on Tuesday evening. Yet thanks to their tough defense and flawless execution at the free throw line, Loyola was able to hang on and win the nonconference matchup, beating St. Patrick 47-44.
Loyola (12-5) wouldn’t have been in position to win were it not for the heroics of Morrissey. The junior guard caught fire in the second half, single-handedly turning a four-point deficit into a two-point lead in the matter of seconds at the end of the third quarter. He finished with a game-high 16 points, which included three 3-pointers.
“I did some different things, made some different cuts, and my teammates just found me in some really good spots,” Morrissey said of his second-half adjustments. “They were guarding us really high, so we used more back-cuts, trying to open up the floor more.”
Morrissey, along with teammates Kevin Kucera and James Clarke, were quite clutch down the line from the charity stripe. The trio combined to go 6-for-6 on free throws in the fourth quarter, not allowing St. Patrick to mount a comeback. The Shamrocks cut the deficit to as close as two points with 30 seconds left, but were unable to get over the hump.
Clarke and center Matthew Sullivan each chipped in eight points, and Loyola coach Tom Livatino felt the entire team stepped up in a big way to earn the victory.
“We challenged our guys, that this was a ‘Big Boy Game,’” Livatino said. “Our guys did a nice job. For us, it was a big win.
“Without a doubt, it was our best win of the year. We’re playing better, but now the bar has been raised a little bit. So we have to continue to get better.”
St. Patrick (11-5) was led by senior Elijah Watson, who scored 17 points.