Thu, Feb. 13, 2014 - [Men's Basketball]
The energy was electric Wednesday evening in Dubuque with Duhawks traveling down the road to battle the Spartans. And a battle it was. The game was neck and neck throughout with neither team ever holding a double digit lead throughout the game. A total of sixteen lead changes and eleven ties occurred. It took some last second heroics by Nathaniel Smith to propel Loras to the win, 71-70.
The Duhawks came out firing right from the tip launching a barrage of 3-pointers connecting on 4 of 6 in the first six minutes of the game. The Spartans came right back on a run of their own jumping out to a 22-15 lead, but that would be their largest of the game. The score was all tied up at 28, but right before the end of the half, the University of Dubuque connected on an alley-oop dunk to go up 2.
Loras came right back in the second half and tied the game and then some, holding a lead of anywhere from four to eight points for nearly five minutes. UD hit a couple of 3-pointers and all of the sudden the score was all tied up once again with 5:30 left in the game.
With less than two minutes left, Aaron Schueller converted a couple of baskets and Alex Cline followed with a big 3-pointer to put the Duhawks up 69-62. UD's Chris Frazier launched two deep shots from way beyond the arc that fell in. The second of those came with 7 seconds left that put the Spartans up by 1.
Loras took a timeout to draw up a play; they needed to go the length of the court within 6 seconds. The ball was inbounded to Nathaniel Smith who drove up the sideline, off of a ball screen by Ryan Coon, and pulled up from about 15 feet for a jump shot with a defender on his side. The shot fell through with 1.9 seconds left on the clock. UD attempted to put up a full court desperation shot but was unsuccessful.
Nathaniel Smith had this to say about the play: "Coach drew up a great play and we executed it. Coon gave me a great screen and I was fortunate enough to hit the shot."
It was safe to say that Smith was going to take the final shot as he was making an abundance of them throughout the game, finishing with a career high 29 points.
"All credit goes to my teammates and coaches," says Smith "They were drawing up and calling my name and my teammates set great screens and delivered perfect passes."
This is the second time this season Loras has defeated UD, both of which came when the Spartans cracked the top 25 rankings. UD's only two losses on the season have been to Loras. The last meeting between the two teams in January at the Athletic and Wellness Center, Loras won by a score of 76-66.
Nathaniel Smith added this about the Loras-UD series: "Anytime you play a rival there is always a little added motivation. I wanted this for my teammates, coaches, and Duhawk Nation!"
Loras shot 43% (26-60) from the field, 50% (10-20) from 3-point range, and 81% (9-11) from the free throw line. They also out rebounded the Spartans 41-32. Leading contributors for the Duhawks were: Nathaniel Smith (career high-29pts, 5rebs), Alex Cline (14pts, 9rebs), and Luke Barry (7pts, 5rebs).
Next up for the Duhawks (12-10, 5-6) is Buena Vista (11-11, 6-5) Saturday at 4pm in the Athletic and Wellness Center. The senior Duhawks will be honored at this game as well. Loras currently sits at 5th place in the Iowa Conference.
Interview with Nathaniel Smith after the game here: