In clutch situations coaches design plays to get the ball to their best players, so it was no surprise that Manhattan's junior guard Monica Roeder and Loyola's senior guard Katie Sheahin traded baskets in the final 30 seconds.
First Roeder, then Sheahin with the Loyola standout's jumper in the lane with 11 seconds left giving her Greyhounds a one-point lead.
But, that was long enough for Roeder to get one more look at the basket, and her flip shot from about 14 feet out at the buzzer gave the Jaspers a 50-49 victory and left no time for Sheahin to get a final turn in a preliminary round contest Thursday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
The victory sends Manhattan on to Friday's 1:30 p.m. quarterfinal-round contest against top-seed and league unbeaten Marist.
In getting the victory, Manhattan actually had two other closing-seconds' shots, both by point guard Allison Skrec, who misfired on both. After the second miss, the ball bounced out of bounds off Loyola and the winners had just nine-tenths of a second remaining to try to get off its game-winner.
Skrec in-bounded the ball to Roeder, who was just open enough to flip up her buzzer-beater that gave the Jaspers the victory.
"This is a microcosm of the MAAC from teams two through 10, the only exception being Marist," said Loyola coach Joe Logan. "There are going to be a lot of games like this in the tournament. We didn't get a rebound (after Skrec's two last-possession misses) and they made a big shot."
Roeder, who went over 1,000 points for her career when she made her first basket early in the second half, was 0-for-7 from the field in the game's first 20-minute session, but 4-6 in the second half and 2-for-2 on her two clutch shots in the final 30 seconds.
"I'm a shooter," she said. "I knew I'd make those shots in the second half. I want to take those shots. But, I had never made a game-winner before. It definitely feels good."
Manhattan coach John Olenowski said the play that produced Roeder's game-winner was actually designed to get the ball inside to Toni-Ann Lawrence, who led all scorers with 15 points in the contest.
"But, when she cut hard to the basket, their defense kind of gravitated toward her, and that allowed Monica to get open just enough," said Olenowski.
"We wanted to keep their players in front of us, and not commit a foul," added Loyola's Logan, about the game's final play. "She (Roeder) wasn't wide open, but we wanted their players to have to get off their feet to catch the in-bounds pass, and have to come down before trying to get off a shot. Instead, Roader was able to catch it flat-footed and get off the shot. Obviously, this isn't how we wanted our season to end.
Loyola, which will move to the Patriot League next season, finishes with a 12-18 overall record. Manhattan is now 8-22.