In a February in which tough losses have been mounting, Loyola College took its fourth setback of three or fewer points and its third overtime defeat in the month yesterday.
St. Peter's, trailing, 91-86, with less than two minutes left in the third overtime, rallied as substitute guard Walter Gibson, who had not scored in regulation, made two three-pointers in the last 40 seconds to lift the Peacocks past the Greyhounds, 95-92, in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game at Reitz Arena.
"It was an unbelievable game," said St. Peter's coach Ted Fiore, whose team had beaten Loyola in overtime earlier this month in Jersey City, N.J. "We've played this team four times and three of them have been overtimes. Fortunately, though, we won all three."
The victory gave St. Peter's a 20-6 overall record and a 10-5 MAAC ledger. Loyola, which could have clinched sixth place with a victory, dropped to 12-15 overall and 5-11 in the conference with its fourth straight loss.
It was a game in which no late lead seemed safe. Loyola, after forging a 62-59 lead in the final minute of regulation as Tracy Bergan (30 points) sparked a late second-half revival, was forced into overtime after St. Peter's Jasper Walker was fouled from three-point range with 20 seconds to play. Walker hit all three free throws to tie the score at 62.
In the first overtime, it was a tip-in by Loyola center Mike Wagner of an intentionally missed free throw by Bergan that kept the Greyhounds alive. The first overtime ended in a tie at 73.
St. Peter's dodged another bullet in the second extra session as Loyola led, 83-80, with 10 seconds left. But Gibson, who finished with 11 points, hit his first of three three-pointers with one second remaining to set up the third overtime with the score tied at 83.
A three-pointer and a short jumper in the lane by Loyola's Kevin Green, who also scored 30, put the Greyhounds on top, 91-86, with 1:40 left in the third overtime. St. Peter's had lost leading scorers Anthony Allen (23 points) and Tony Walker (20) to fouls.
But Wagner missed two free throws and Gibson pumped in a three-pointer with 40 seconds left to pull the Peacocks within 91-90. After Wagner made one of two at the foul line, St. Peter's called for time.
Gibson took the inbounds pass, used a screen to work clear at the top of the three-point arc and swished the go-ahead basket with 17 seconds left. After Green missed at the other end, Corey Taylor hit two free throws to open a 95-92 Peacocks lead with six seconds left.
This time, last-second heroics were not forthcoming as Bergan's three-point try hit off the front of the rim at the buzzer.
Loyola coach Tom Schneider said his team expected the screen out front. "We knew what was coming, we just didn't get it done," he said. "Give Gibson credit. He didn't play all day and he knocked down three threes in overtime."
Loyola opens MAAC tournament play Thursday in Albany, N.Y. The seedings will be announced Tuesday.