Alyssa Ashley Loyola 48
(8-11, 16-9, 13-13, 11-13)
Loyola managed to tie the series after two matches with a last gasp hoop from Desarae Johnson for their first victory in a league final.
Luxol had battled back on several occasions refusing to accept a defeat in this second match.
Loyola were nearly always in front but they couldn’t open up a significant advantage with the Violets inching back every time. The score was then level with seconds to go when Johnson made the decisive breakthrough.
Loyola were without Justine Mangion. The champions fielded their latest full squad.
Loyola made the better start as Johnson and Christina Grima contrived to put their side 7-0 ahead.
The Violets began to answer back and after their first effort found a reply from Loyola’s end, Luxol then upstaged their opponents by nailing a trio of triples - two from Beverlee Zammit and another by Sarah Pace - as Luxol went in front for the first time.
In the second session Loyola opened up brightly once more and more Johnson hoops helped them to overturn the score.
Robin Murphy replied for the champions but a three basket run had Loyola on a better advantage. Luxol tried to reassert their superiority and went to within a basket of their adversaries.
Loyola had Johnson in fine shooting form and opened up their lead again. At the interval they were on a 24-20 advantage.
After the break, Luxol’s initial points found a ready reply as Loyola held on to their lead. When the Violets crept to within a point, Loyola managed to net a three basket run.
Their new and improved advantage was whittled down once more as Luxol surged forward. Loyola had Denise Hollier with a triple and her side went into the last quarter on a 37-33 lead.
The champions put in their free throws to tie the score. Loyola made space for themselves and they forged in front yet again. Greta Zarb netted a triple and Luxol were again a point behind.
Loyola eked out another better lead but Luxol came right back with Murphy free throws and it was a tied score once more with eight seconds left on the clock.
Loyola took the ball to the other end and Johnson sank a glorious distant hoop right at the buzzer as Loyola grabbed their victory to go on equal terms in the series.
Loyola moved a step further to the league championship crown yesterday winning the third match of the final 57-56.
The fourth game in the series will be played on Sunday.
Loyola: 4 E. Moore, 13 C. Grima, J. Doughty, 5 D. Hollier, K. Tonna, A. Bonanno, 4 A. Sciberras, F. Camilleri, 4 SJ Barbara, 18 D. Johnson
Luxol: 3 S. Pace, 6 M. Sciortino, C. Medina, 2 B. Naudi, J. Busuttil Gaerty, 3 G. Zarb, P. Ellul, 21 R. Murphy, 2 D. Muscat, A. Paul, 9 B. Zammit
Referees: E. Mangani, A. Carbonaro, C. Terribile