CHICAGO, Ill. - Down by 13 points with just under 11 minutes to go in the second half, all seemed bleak for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team, as a blowout loss seemed imminent. The young Golden Eagles fought back in those final 11 minutes, leaving Loyola Chicago fans gasping for air as the final buzzer sounded.
Fifty years after the first meeting between the Ramblers and Golden Eagles, Loyola Chicago overcame poor free throw shooting down the stretch to hold on for an 81-78 victory. The Ramblers, who won the 1963 NCAA Championship and defeated Tech 111-42 on their way to the title, found a way at the end to finally put away the comeback attempt by Tech.
Despite trailing by as many as nine points with just two and half minutes remaining, the Golden Eagles would not give up and found themselves down by just one point with nine seconds left on the clock following a clutch three-pointer from junior forward Matt Marseille. He immediately fouled a Rambler guard and was removed from the game with his fifth foul.
Joe Crisman sank both free throws to give the Ramblers a three point lead with just six seconds to go. Freshman guard Lanerryl Johnson got off a good luck from behind the arc, but despite scoring a career-high 12 points, the shot would not fall and Loyola Chicago would emerge victorious.
Junior transfer Jeremiah Samarrippas paced the Tech offense in the first half, scoring a Golden Eagle career-best 13 points in just the first 20 minutes. The guard was perfect from the field making five of five shots, including three from behind the arc. He would finish with 15 points, his highest as a Golden Eagle.
Picking up where Samarrippas left off in the second half was Marseille. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native enjoyed a break-out game, scoring an incredible 19 second-half points and a career-best 21 overall. He led the Golden Eagles in both scoring and rebounding (five boards) on the night before eventually fouling out with six seconds to go.
Also scoring in double figures for Tennessee Tech were Johnson, who finished with 12, and senior guard Jud Dillard, who tallied 14 on the night.
The Golden Eagles will have a quick turn-around following the loss as they prepare for a Friday evening match-up against the Lipscomb Bisons in Nashville, Tenn. With a 6:30 p.m. CST start time, the Golden Eagles will look to repeat last season's game, an overtime thriller that saw Tech triumph 89-87 in Cookeville.