Free throws help St. Frances foil Loyola comeback, 64-61 Ranson and Johnson spark 6th straight win Boys basketball

February 15, 1993|By Bob Clark | Bob Clark,Contributing Writer

Four free throws in the final 24 seconds by Patrick Johnson and Orlando Ranson staved off a Loyola comeback and lifted St. Frances to its sixth straight victory, 64-61, over the Catholic League-leading Dons at the University of Baltimore yesterday.

Ranson, who led all scorers with 23 points, hit his pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to provide the winning margin for the Panthers (11-10 overall and 8-5 in the Catholic League) and prevent Boys basketball

Loyola (20-7 and 9-3) from clinching at least a tie for the Catholic League championship.

"We knew after the first game [which Loyola won on a shot at the buzzer] that we could play with [Loyola]," said Ranson. "And our team is showing right now that it can win."

The Panthers outscored Loyola 13-2 early in the second half to open a 48-41 lead, which the Dons closed to 50-47 after three quarters.

But St. Frances hit its first four shots of the final quarter to move ahead 58-49 with six minutes to play.

Loyola, with senior Wes Unseld Jr. scoring seven of his team-high 17 points, charged back. The Dons cut the Panthers' lead to 60-59 on a three-pointer by Kevin Chinnia with 2:17 left.

But the big free throws in the closing seconds held off the Dons.

"You have to give St. Frances credit," said Loyola coach Jerry Savage. "They built the lead in the second half and did what they needed to protect it.

"St. Frances is playing well right now. They've got it rolling. But we just have to win two games. Our fate is in our own hands."

Loyola will play at Mount St. Joseph and Towson Catholic this week and a pair of victories would clinch the regular-season title.

St. Frances, though, is the hottest team in the league. "I've been saying that we have a real good team," said Panthers coach William Wells. "We're playing as a team, sacrificing a lot of personal gains for wins now. And that's what it's going to take to win the Catholic Tournament."

Loyola opened the game with a 9-2 run, but the Panthers answered that with a 7-0 spurt, including six by Ranson, to pull even midway through the quarter.

St. Frances gained its first lead of the game, 19-18, with 10 jTC seconds left in the first quarter when Johnson (13 points) scored inside off a feed from Ranson. But Loyola's Tim O'Hara nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Dons a 21-19 edge after a quarter.

The Panthers regained the lead early in the second quarter after a three-point play by Johnson. Loyola answered that with a six-point run for a 29-26 lead.

Stanley Parker took a feed from Ranson and stuffed it while being fouled. He sank the free throw to tie the game at 29 with 3:33 left in the half.

The game was tied three more times before Loyola took the halftime lead at 37-35 on a driving layup by Reggie Boyce with two seconds left.

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