Coming off a heartbreaking last-second loss to North Carolina State University in the Paradise Jam, the Loyola men’s basketball team (6-2) looked to recover with a victory over Norfolk State University on Nov. 30. And that’s just what the Ramblers did when they outlasted the Spartans 75-62.
Although Loyola held the edge for the majority of the game, the Ramblers found their lead in jeopardy during the second half. After being up eight points at halftime, the Ramblers fell victim to an 10-3 run by the Spartans to make it a one-point game.
The lead hovered around three points for the the next eight minutes, and then the Ramblers took off with a 12-0 run of their own to go up 13 points. The team never looked back sealing Loyola’s sixth win of the season.
The defense hurt Loyola the most, as three of the Spartan guards combined for 42 of Norfolk State’s 62 points — 30 of those points came in the second half alone. This is the second consecutive game the Ramblers’ perimeter defense was their achilles heel since three N.C. State players were responsible for 69 of their 79 points last Saturday.
Redshirt sophomore guard Clayton Custer (20 pts; 6-8 FG, 4-6 3pt) said the defense in the second half didn’t come out as strong as Loyola would have liked, but the team managed to take the game back.
“We came out for the second half, and we weren’t in tune defensively,” Custer said. “We had a little reality check [when they went on a run], and … once we started getting stops, we took control of the game.”
Head coach Porter Moser gave credit to Norfolk State, as the Spartans took advantage of the defensive problems that plagued the Ramblers. He said his biggest takeaway from the victory was how Loyola managed to fight back and win by double digits.
“I’m excited we found a way to win [when we were] not at our best,” Moser said. “I think we took control of the ball, [with] 19 assists and three turnovers.”
The Ramblers are scheduled to be back in action again at home against San Diego State University on Dec. 3 for a Missouri Valley Conference vs. Mountain West Conference showdown.