Heroes are created in rivalry games. On Wednesday at UIC Pavilion the hero for Loyola was Courtney Stanley. The point guard's three as time expired in overtime gave the Ramblers a 67-66 victory over cross-town Horizon League rival UIC.
Stanley received the pass from Terrance Hill and drained the jumper from the left wing as time expired. The shot came right after Dipanjot Singh had hit a big shot of his own, one over which there was much debate whether it was a three or a two, to give the Flames a 66-64 lead with 4.6 seconds remaining.
"The plan was just to get the ball up the court first so we could get a good shot," Stanley said. "I told [Hill] give me the ball I'm going to score. I don't know, I just had that confidence and going into that type of play you need that. I got the ball and the only thing I could see was the rim and I knocked the shot down."
It was the second buzzer-beater of Stanley's career, he also beat Bradley last season. Still, he was an incredibly unlikely hero. Coming into Wednesday the junior point guard had shot 2-20 from three all season. Against the Flames he went 2-3 from beyond the arc and 5-10 overall to score 13 points. It was the second big game he's had against UIC this season, as he scored 13 points against the Flames at the Gentile Center on January 22. That game was the last time Stanley, who has been in and out of the starting lineup, scored in double-figures this season.
"I've been working on it," Stanley said about his shot. "I've been in the gym. You just have to get that confidence. That's all."
The other hero for Loyola was Geoff McCammon. The senior shooting guard wills his team to victories over the Flames. McCammon went 5-5 from three in the game and 9-14 overall on the way to scoring 23 points. He played 41 minutes and was the catalyst for a Ramblers offense that shot 56.5 percent in the second half.
"You could feel the intensity," McCammon said. "I feel like both teams really wanted to win. I thought we played hard and we stayed focus."
Of course it didn't seem like the Ramblers would have the opportunity for such a dramatic victory early in the first half. Loyola once again started slow on offense and the Flames led by 10 points with 12:35 remaining in the first half. The Ramblers were turning the ball over and Paul Carter was dominating on the offensive end early.
While Paul Carter cooled off later in the half, Paris Carter continued to keep the Flames in the game. Paris grabbed 7 offensive rebounds and 12 overall, shot 7-10 from the floor and scored 16 points. UIC had 18 offensive rebounds as a team and dominated second-chance points 23-2 in the game.
"UIC has been very good at that all year," Loyola had coach Jim Whitesell said. "They lead the league in offensive rebounding. [Paul] Carter is a tough match up. He's got three, four inches on Geoff."
Loyola got up big midway through the second half as the offense heated up. The Ramblers led by 11 with 9:19 before the teams started trading punches late in the game. Hill made big free throws down the stretch, Paul Carter, Paris Carter, Hill and McCammon all made big baskets.
When Singh hit his shot it looked like he would be the unlikely hero, but Stanley's aim was true and the Ramblers pulled off a thrilling victory.
"It was open and I took, but whenever there is time on the clock anything is possible," Singh said afterward.
And 4.6 seconds was just enough time to find a new hero.