BALTIMORE - Denzel Brito made a driving layup down the left side with 3.3 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, and Eric Laster scored the first five points of the extra period to help lift Loyola University Maryland to a 56-53 Patriot League win over visiting American University Wednesday night in Reitz Arena.
Loyola (5-9 overall, 1-2 Patriot League) led for more than 40 minutes of the game and went up 10 with 6:42 to play in the second half, but the Eagles (8-7, 1-2) used a 13-2 run over the next 5:51 to go up 46-45 on two Jesse Reed free throws with 53 tickets left in regulation.
Brito had a runner from the right go off the rim during the Greyhounds' next possession, and the Eagles took possession after the rebound bounced out of bounds.
Pee Wee Gardner was fouled with 14.9 seconds left, but he missed the first of two free throws. His second was good, putting the preseason Patriot League favorites in front by a pair, 47-45.
Brito came off a screen at the top of the perimeter and went down the left side of the lane, laying the ball in with his right hand to knot the score at 47-47. Gardner's half-court shot went off the front of the rim, and the teams headed to overtime.
Gardner looked for a backdoor entry pass on American's first possession of the extra period, but Brito picked it off, and Laster was fouled in the paint on the other end. He made both free throws to put Loyola in front for the remainder of the game.
Neither American, nor Loyola scored until the 2:11 mark in overtime when Laster grabbed an offensive rebound and stuck the putback. He was fouled and made the free throw to push the Greyhounds' lead to five.
John Schoof made 1-of-2 free throws for American at 1:54, and Gardner hit a pair at the line 46 seconds later to cut the Eagles' deficit to two, 52-50.
Loyola used nearly all of the shot clock on its next possession, and Andre Walker drew a foul while driving in the lane. He hit both foul shots with 36 seconds showing. Chancellor Barnard and Brito each hit 1-of-2 in the final 14.2 seconds, making it a two-possesion game, 56-50 in favor of Loyola with six ticks left.
Gardner made a three from the left side with nine-tenths of a second left, but Loyola was able to inbound the ball and run out the clock for the win. Gardner's three was the only field goal American would hit in the overtime period. The Eagles
Brito matched his season-high with 11 points. The senior also set a career-high with four steals and matched his career-best with six rebounds. He had three assists while committing just one turnover in a career-high 43 minutes.
Barnard scored a career-high 10 points, making all four of his field goals. Five other Greyhounds scored six or more points; Tyler Hubbard and Laster each had seven, and Walker, Rassman and Cam Gregory scored six each. Gregory led all players with seven rebounds.
Gardner and Schoof shared game-high scoring honors with 15 each, and Reed tallied 14, but only one other Eagles player (Marko Vasic, 6) scored more than two.
Loyola led for all but 52 seconds of the first half and went ahead 18-8 on a traditional 3-point play by Rassman. A pull-up Brito jumper with 2:46 left made it 22-14 Greyhounds, but American held them scoreless for the remainder of the half.
Reed used a hook in the paint with under a second remaining to cut the deficit to 22-18 at the break.
After Gregory opened scoring in the second half with a layup, Reed drove right side and scored, and Schoof made 1-of-2 at the line to pull the Eagles within three with 17:17 left. Hubbard, however, hit a three off a Brito assist 18 ticks later to stretch it back to six.
Schoof got the Eagles back to within three, 32-29, with a layup at 11:46, but just over five minutes later, Brito broke down the defense on a drive and fed Barnard for a layup to make it 43-33 Greyhounds.
Defensively, the Greyhounds held American to 38.6 percent shooting from the field and just 3-of-15 (20 percent) from 3-point range. The Eagles also had a season-low five assists and committed 15 turnovers.
Loyola continues Patriot League play with a pair of upcoming road games in the Lehigh Valley. It takes on Lehigh University Saturday, Jan. 10, at 2 p.m. before traveling to Lafayette College for a 7 o'clock contest on Wednesday, Jan. 14.