The Ramblers were looking for their first series sweep of the season against Valparaiso Feb. 19. Despite a 10-0 scoring run by the Ramblers in the second half to tie the game, Loyola’s men’s basketball team couldn’t defeat the leaders of the Horizon League, with a final score of 85-76.
“I was really proud of the character of the guys,” Loyola head coach Porter Moser said. “They knew we didn’t play well in the first half. They knew they were up against a team that was running on all cylinders in the first half and they came out ready to compete. And it takes a lot to battle back and tie that game against a team like that.”
The Ramblers were down 15 points at halftime, but they battled back to tie the game. Midway through the second half sophomore forwards Joe Crisman and Christian Thomas scored a combined 10 consecutive points to tie the game. Despite the scoring run, Valparaiso quickly answered with two three point field goals of their own to stretch their lead.
“A lot of teaching moments for our young guys, but you have a very small margin of error when you play a conference champion team, back-to-back champs,” Moser said. “I love the culture of the guys how they battled back. It’s tough when you face a team when they’re extremely veteran and we’re extremely young. ”
The Ramblers played one senior, four sophomores, and four freshmen, while two juniors saw playing time in the final 30 seconds of the game. Despite their youth, four Ramblers scored in double digits. Thomas led the Ramblers with 15 points, which all came in the second half, while red shirt senior Jordan Hicks added 13, and freshmen guards Devon Turk and Jeff White both scored 12.
The Ramblers were once again without senior captain Ben Averkamp (concussion) and junior point guard Cully Payne (hand). Averkamp’s status is day-to-day, while Payne will be evaluated Feb. 20.
The Ramblers now hold a record of 14-13 and 4-10 in conference. Their next game will be against Kent State (14-12) Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. at Gentile Arena.