What went down: The Loyola men’s basketball team (17-4, 7-2) traveled to Drake University to take on the Bulldogs for a battle for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) standings Jan. 24. The Ramblers came back to defeat Drake 80-57 and move into sole possession of first place in the MVC standings for the first time in program history.
How it happened: The teams went back-and-forth during the first half as the score was tied four times, but Drake took a 31-29 lead into the locker room. After halftime, Loyola went on a 12-5 run before Drake tied it at 51. The Ramblers then went on a 26-4 run to close out the game and come out on top 80-57.
Analysis: Big games from redshirt junior guard Clayton Custer and first-year center Cameron Krutwig propelled Loyola to victory. Custer dropped 14 points and dished eight assists in the effort. Loyola is now 15-1 when Custer is in the starting lineup and he continues to be an efficient floor general for Loyola.
Krutwig scored 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds while also handing out three assists in the victory. The reigning MVC Newcomer of the Week continues to make his case for MVC Freshman of the Year and is opening eyes around the league. He’s now averaging 9.7 ppg and 6.7 rpg this season.
Redshirt junior Marques Townes had 17 points in the game, with 15 coming in the second half. Townes is averaging 11.7 ppg this season, and his versatility has been a key piece to the puzzle for Loyola.
The victory put Loyola alone atop the MVC standings for the first time since joining the conference in 2013. Halfway through the MVC portion of the schedule, the Ramblers appear to be the team to beat in the conference and will look to ride the momentum through the second half.
Last season, Loyola won 18 games overall and eight MVC games. Through 21 games this season, the Ramblers have won 17 overall and seven MVC. Loyola has never won more than eight conference games since joining the MVC and has only won more than 18 games overall once in the Porter Moser era, in 2015. Loyola won the College Basketball Invitational that season.
What’s next? Loyola is scheduled to return home to take on the University of Northern Iowa Jan. 28.