|Matt Rafferty had seven points and an assist on the game-winning basket over|
the final 1:21 of Furman's 60-58 win over Loyola. Photo courtesy of Furman
After scoring seven consecutive points over the final 1:21 of Furman men's basketball game at Loyola-Chicago, Rafferty was bound to draw plenty of attention on the Paladins' final possession in a tie game and he did. With one defender closely guarding him and another coming over to help near the top of the key, Rafferty hit Clay Mounce in stride - as if he was throwing to a receiver slanting to the end zone. Mounce caught Rafferty's pass and threw down a posterizing dunk with 1.6 seconds left to give Furman the lead. The Ramblers' half-court prayer at the buzzer bounced away no good and the Paladins celebrated a 60-58 win over the 2018 Final Four participant.
Furman saw a 23-8 first half lead washed away under the flurry of a 20-0 Loyola run. The Paladins trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half before rallying. They were able to come back despite Rafferty, Jordan Lyons, Alex Hunter and Noah Gurley each being saddled with four fouls down the stretch.
"I can't say enough about our team's will," Furman coach Bob Richey told FurmanPaladins.com. "We never quit tonight and kept our poise down the stretch.
"That's life. Life is about responding."
"Clay's the best cutter we've got. We say in our program that 'cutting is character.' That was great character on his part that he was able to cut that right there when he hadn't had a great game," Richey said. "He went up with authority and man, what a night to be a Paladin."
Rafferty finished with team-highs in points (18), rebounds (7) and assists (4), and also had two blocked shots and two steals. While Furman suffered 17 turnovers, Rafferty was the lone starter with none. Lyons had 15 points and three steals, while Gurley finished with 11 points and six rebounds off the bench. Mounce and Andrew Brown each scored eight points, and Mounce added seven rebounds and three blocks.
While he didn't scratch in the scoring column in 18 minutes off the bench, Tre Clark's effort was lauded by Richey.
"I could talk forever (about this game), but Tre Clark. The kid has been through a ton of adversity and two injuries last year when he redshirted," Richey said. "His defense was unbelievable. On-ball defense, off-ball defense - he was all over the court."