What went down: The Loyola men’s basketball team (15-4, 5-2) took on Southern Illinois University (SIU) at Gentile Arena Jan. 17. The Ramblers defeated the Salukis 79-65 to move into a three-way tie for first in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). The win is also Loyola’s fourth straight MVC win, its longest conference winning streak since its 2006-07 season as a member of the Horizon League.
How it happened: The Ramblers came out firing, making nine of their first 11 shots to start the game. But SIU made it 19-18 with 8:37 to go in the first half before Loyola went on a 16-5 run into the break. In the second half, Loyola outscored SIU 44-42 behind 18 second-half points from senior forward Donte Ingram, who finished with 25 on the night. First-year center Cam Krutwig added 18 points and nine rebounds to the effort, just one game after scoring a double-double against Bradley University Jan. 13.
Analysis: Ingram went into the SIU game averaging 11.2 ppg on the year. His 25 ppg are the most he’s scored since putting up 30 against Bradley last season. Ingram, who scored his thousandth career point Jan. 10, is also averaging a team-best 6.5 rebounds per game. The third team Preseason All-MVC nominee continues to play a key role in the Loyola offense.
Krutwig is having a first-year season for the books. The Algonquin native is averaging 9.5 ppg and 6.4 rebounds per game, which rank third and second, respectively, among MVC first-years. Krutwig has been a force down low for Loyola all season and is showing no signs of slowing down as conference play heats up.
Redshirt junior guard Clayton Custer added 12 points while senior guard Ben Richardson contributed six assists against SIU. The guards, who won two state titles together at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, Kansas, have been instrumental in the Ramblers’ success this season despite injuries. Custer leads the team with 12.4 ppg while Richardson is Loyola’s best defender. With the two of them playing well, Loyola is poised to continue its run at a MVC regular season title.
Both teams combined for 43 fouls in the game, with 29 coming in the second half. The physicality of the game was due, in part, to both teams pounding the paint to get shots off. SIU had 40 points in the paint while Loyola had 38. SIU guard Marcus Bartley fouled out with 1:36 to go in the game.
Last season, Loyola won 18 games overall –– eight in MVC play –– and finished in fifth place out of 10 teams in the MVC. So far this year, the team has 15 wins –– including five MVC wins –– and sits tied atop the conference standings. The Ramblers haven’t won more than eight conference games since joining the MVC in 2014, and it’s starting to look like that’ll change this season.
Moser’s thoughts: After the game, head coach Porter Moser said he was proud of how his team played in a game that saw 43 total fouls.
“Southern Illinois is probably one of the more physical teams we’ve played this year by far,” Moser said. “They don’t quit. They’re physical and they play hard, and I’m just really proud of our guys to grind that out in a very, very tough [and] physical game.”
What’s next? The Ramblers are scheduled to travel to Valparaiso University to take on the Crusaders Jan. 21.