St. Paul's has been tested tough all season long, but to prove its worthiness among the Catholic League's top teams, it needed a win yesterday over No. 10 Loyola.
For three quarters the No. 19 Crusaders looked like they might get one but a late run by the host Dons over the final six minutes allowed Loyola (16-5, 6-1) to escape with a 49-41 win.
Each of the Dons' four senior starters has stepped forward throughout the season, and this time it was Adam Shigley's turn.
Shigley, a 6-foot-1 forward, led all scorers with 17 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, when Loyola took the lead for good, 36-33, on a three-pointer by Mike Sutphin.
Sutphin finished with 10 points for Loyola and Matt Neumayer with 11, while Chris Kakel and Adair Newhall led St. Paul's (12-3) with eight apiece.
With the Dons down 26-23 in the final seconds of the third quarter, Shigley began Loyola's comeback.
He converted a three-point play with 2.9 seconds left, then stole St. Paul's in-bounds pass and hit a layup that gave the Dons their first lead of the game, 28-26, as the third quarter expired.
The Loyola defense held St. Paul's scoreless for the final six minutes of the first half.
"Adam's been very consistent and played well for us all year," said Loyola coach Jerry Savage.
"He started off real well, then he had a little bit of a tough time but he's come back and played real well the last 10 or so games."
Said St. Paul's coach Rick Collins, "We came to play and we gave them everything we had. At certain times [in the second half] we had good opportunities but they started to get more than one look at the basket and they took advantage of it."