St. Mary's won't return to the basketball court until 2014, but the Pirates made sure to finish this calendar year on an historic note.
Robert Delfeld scored a team-high 18 points, and Alex Greenly and Jimmy Velton added 17 each as St. Mary's rallied from an early 11-point deficit, then held off Manitou Springs 56-53 in overtime Saturday, snapping a six-game losing streak against the Mustangs.
"There was a lot of hype around this game," Greenly said. "To come in here and leave with a win is something we haven't done in a long time."
The Pirates (3-0) hadn't emerged victorious at Manitou Springs (0-3) since Jan. 6, 2009.
Delfeld scored eight of his 10 points in the final 1:32 of the first half to bring the Pirates to within 29-25 at halftime. Then Greenly's three-point play with 6:58 left in the third quarter gave St. Mary's its first lead at 31-30.
After that, the lead switched hands nine times and was tied on six other occasions in this nonleague matchup between schools that date back to the 19th century.
Delfeld's free throw with 14.4 seconds left in overtime gave St. Mary's the lead for good. Velton grabbed a rebound on Chase Megyeri's missed shot as he drove through the lane, and the Pirates sophomore calmly sank both free throws with 3.8 seconds left.
"At the end, I was just thinking I had done this a million times," said Velton, alluding to his free throws at the end of overtime. "I'm just really excited to get this team win. This is good for our momentum."
Megyeri led all scorers with 23 points but failed to give the Mustangs the lead after missing one of two free throws with 20.6 seconds left for a 56-all deadlock.
"Our shooting is just up and down a lot," Megyeri said. "I've just got to hit my shots. Having experience in close games will help in the future for sure. Next time, we'll have to capitalize on stuff and hopefully come out with a victory."
Manitou also failed to protect a 52-48 lead with 2:19 left, allowing St. Mary's to make three of four free throws, then watched as Delfeld grabbed an offensive rebound off a Greenly miss for a putback with 39 seconds left to tie the game at 53.
The Mustangs held for the final shot, but Megyeri was called for traveling as he slashed into a crowded lane with 1.1 seconds left.
"We missed some free throws and made some very bad mental mistakes down the stretch," Manitou coach Ken Vecchio said. "It's better than we did in the first two games, but we can get better at those things. We'll get there. We're a little inconsistent, but if they keep their heads up and work hard, they'll get there."
Early on, it looked as if the Mustangs would notch their first victory of the season.
James Finsterwald made three 3-pointers in the first half. His shot from the left corner highlighted an 8-0 run that gave Manitou a 26-15 lead with 2:33 left before halftime.
He made another from the left side for a 29-19 Mustangs advantage with 1:04 left, but the Pirates scratched back to score the half's final six points.
"We got through foul trouble and got through early shooting woes," Pirates coach Mark Beranek said. "Possession by possession, we got back in it, and that was nice. The kids did good things together, and they responded every time something happened. To come here and win, it makes us feel pretty good."