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Charles Matthews’ mid-court steal followed by a dunk with 3:13 to play in the fourth quarter gave St. Rita a one-point lead over Loyola Friday night.
Little did Matthews know he just hit the game winner.
In a game dominated by defense, neither team scored the rest of the game and the Mustangs escaped Wilmette with a 36-35 win in a Chicago Catholic League crossover.
“I saw my teammate playing aggressive defense and I got to the topside,” Matthews said. “I went in for the steal and thankfully I got a breakaway dunk.”
Matthews (10 points, 3 steals, 3 rebounds), a 6-foot-5 sophomore guard, also made some clutch plays in the final minute. He picked off a pass in the lane with just over 13 seconds left in the game.
Although Matthews missed the front end of a one-and-one with 10.8 seconds to play he blocked James Clarke’s last-second shot to preserve the win.
“The last three games we played were all against very good teams and we couldn’t find a way to win,” said Ramblers coach Tom Livatino. “We move forward from here, practice tomorrow and Sunday and get them ready to play.”
No. 15 St. Rita (7-2, 3-1) got the better of Loyola (6-4, 2-2) early on, taking a 16-11 lead after backup sophomore guard Armani Chaney drained a three-pointer to beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter.
However, the Mustangs offense went missing in the second quarter as they didn’t record a point. The Ramblers managed just five points of their own settling for a 16-16 halftime tie.
Both teams relied heavily on the three-ball in the first half with each team making four three-pointers.
St. Rita’s offense remained in hiding until Victor Law got it kick-started by nailing a three with 4:07 left in the third. Law (12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) converted two more three-pointers in the quarter as the Mustangs took a 27-25 lead into the fourth.
“I was kind of feeling it tonight so I just kept shooting,” Law said. “I really had confidence in my shot and I let it go.”
The two teams traded the lead back and forth in the fourth. Ramblers’ back up guard Chris Sullivan knocked down a pair of three’s in the period. Loyola’s last lead was with 4:34 remaining after Richie Wehman converted a pair of free throws for a 35-34 advantage.
Jack Morrissey paced the Ramblers with 12 points while Clark added 11.
Loyola shot 8-of-25 from beyond the arc.