While not pretty, the return to postseason basketball for the first time in 30 years for the men’s basketball team proved victorious. The Ramblers beat Rider University 62-59 at Joseph Gentile Arena on March 17 in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
Loyola, or rather Milton Doyle, closed the game on a 14-5 run in the final five minutes of the game. During the run, sophomore combo guard Doyle scored 12 of his 22 points, eight of which came at the free-throw line.
Though the game slowed down to a crawl during the final minutes, there was a much faster pace than normal in the first half, as the NCAA decided to test a 30-second shot clock in the CBI this year.
The result was a more up-and-down game similar to the NBA with shots going up much earlier in the shot clock, at least initially. Both teams seemed to benefit from this, especially from long distance.
The Broncs were absolutely electric from three-point range, pouring in 10 first-half threes on 14 tries. Xavier Lundy paced Rider with four threes of his own and finished with 14 points by halftime.
But Devon Turk kept the Ramblers hanging around, matching Lundy at every turn. The junior shooting guard also hit four three-pointers and scored all of his 14 points in the first half.
However, Loyola trailed 36-31 heading into the break.
Right out of the gate in the second, both teams appeared gassed. Shooting percentages dropped, the tempo slowed way down, and the game began to live at the line. It appeared the high pace of the first half had tired the players out.
Loyola and Rider traded buckets, or lack there of, for much of the second half, and the Ramblers couldn’t seem to close the gap.
Fortunately for them, great half-court defense forced the Broncs to shoot just 20 percent from long distance and 29.2 percent overall in the second, allowing the Ramblers a shot to come back.
Tired legs caused both sides to get careless on defense, and the refs started blowing the whistle more frequently. This turned out to favor the Ramblers, despite the team just shooting 67 percent from the free-throw line all year.
Loyola went 16-19 from the line in the second half alone, and Doyle missed just one of his 12 second-half free throws. Meanwhile, Rider went 7-12 and blew its slight lead.
Loyola guard Ben Richardson iced the game with two free throws of his own, and Loyola defeated Rider 62-59.