Forward Andy Bastock made a high-arching shot in the lane with five seconds to play Friday night, giving Bradley a 99-97 victory over Loyola Marymount in the opening game of the Freedom Bowl Classic at UC Irvine.
The loss dropped Loyola to 1-3 and put the Lions in tonight’s consolation game at 6. Bradley improved to 1-1.
The depleted Lions, who were missing two starters and a key reserve because of injuries controlled the game early and took a 12-point lead. But Bradley turned cut that to 59-56 at halftime.
Bradley tried a zone defense in the second half, successfully closing down Loyola’s outside game, and took a 16-point lead midway through the half. But Loyola then scored eight consecutive points in the next 1:11, and eventually took a 91-90 lead on Terrell Lowery’s layup off a steal with 3:59 to play. Lowery led Loyola with 22 points.
The lead changed hands five more times before Loyola’s Brian McCloskey made one of two free throws with 48 seconds left. Bradley held the ball and called a timeout with 12 seconds to play.
“When they called the timeout it was lucky for us,” Loyola Coach Jay Hillock said. “We got a hand on the (inbounds) ball. Close, close.”
Bradley, trying to run a play for Curtis Stuckey, who had 33 points, lost control of the inbounds pass. But in the scramble, Bradley center Xanthus Houston came up with the ball and passed to Bastock. Bastock dribbled into the lane and scored the last of his 10 points.
“When I shot it I was concerned about getting blocked so I put a lot of arc on it,” Bastock said. “It felt good when I let it go and it felt great when I saw it go through.”
Said Hillock: “We played better than in Maui (in a tournament), but we had some lapses. We’re still hurting ourselves in phases of the game. . . . We’re not playing as well in the second half.”