After a Duquesne missed open layup, on a broken baseline out of bounds play, the Duquesne players admitted they weren’t matched up to play defense on the correct players. The Loyola Ramblers had a chance to win the game. True freshman guard, Kira Chivers hoisted a midrange jump shot that came up just short. As the ball clanged off the front of the rim and the final horn rang, the cheers came from the Dukes bench. It very easily could have been the opposing Ramblers cheering instead. It is March now after all. After the game, Duquesne head coach Dan Burt put it concisely, “See you tomorrow”. Burt later expanded on his answer to say that he was glad to be able to keep playing in the tournament but that everything his team does over the next 24 hours will be to focus on George Washington.
The Dukes came out scorching hot. They made 6 of their first 8 three point attempts, and they made 7 in the first half. On the other hand, the Ramblers struggled to get open shots. At halftime, the Ramblers trailed 35-21. Chandler hadn’t scored. Galanopoulos only had one bucket. And Tanin was 3 for 12 from the field. Loyola did something that I’m not sure that I’ve seen other than at a high school game. They stayed on the court at halftime. The coaches had a brief talk with the team, but the Ramblers spent the majority of the 15 minutes at half getting up shots. “They needed to be better shot makers,” Loyola Head Coach Guth told us after the game. They did just that.
The second half started with a bang. And her name was Maya Chandler. Chandler went on a 7-1 run by herself in the first 1:12 of Quarter 3. Chandler and Tanin took turns giving Duquesne all they could handle and then some. Tanin made some impressive turnaround shots, layups, and midrange jumpers. Chandler did most of her work from midrange and the free throw line. With 2:44 left in the game, Chandler drove to the hoop, made a spectacular layup, and got fouled. As she shouted on the ground in celebration there seemed to be a total tide shift. Chandler knocked down the free throw to tie the game, and it felt like Loyola might come back from being down 18 to win the game. The Dukes were able to make buckets on back to back possessions while, Loyola’s Kira Chivers only could manage to split a pair of free throws. Chandler again brought the deficit back to 1 with a jumper. But that would be as close as they’d get. The Dukes squeezed by with a 1 point victory, but the Ramblers huge hearts shone through.
In the postgame interview Coach Guth harped on a point that she’s made all season, “We promised to leave everything we have out there on the court.” These Ramblers did just that. Guth was asked about Loyola’s transition from the Valley to the A10 and Guth’s personal transition from Ivy League coach to A10 coach. But the one that stuck out to me was asked by a senior reporter. He asked Guth what she would hope to change when she’s able to forget about this game in 2 days. Guth laughed and assured us all that “in 2 days I’m not going to be able to forget about this.” Loyola believed they’d win this game. They believe in the work they put in over each of 85 practices they had this year. There was no doubt from the staff of the players that they go out an get a win. As Guth so masterfully crafted, “We left our doubts in the Double Tree down the street.”