What went down: After winning the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) regular season title outright Feb. 21, the Loyola men’s basketball team (25-5, 15-3) returned to Gentile Arena to take on Illinois State University Saturday afternoon. The Ramblers defeated the Redbirds 68-61 in front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 5,000 people.
How it happened: It was a back-and-forth first half, with eight ties and five lead changes before Loyola took a 33-28 lead going into the break. But, Illinois State stormed back in the second half, leading by as many as six points. Loyola ended the game on a 21-14 run to seal the victory.
Analysis: Loyola was led by three players in double-digit points: First-year center Cameron Krutwig had 16 points while senior guard Ben Richardson had 12 and senior forward Donte Ingram had 11.
Although redshirt junior guard Clayton Custer only had three points, he dished seven assists and grabbed four rebounds. Despite shooting 1-for-10 from the field, Custer is still in the running for Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Player of the Year.
The Ramblers held Illinois State forward Milik Yarbrough to nine points on the game. Yarbrough came in averaging 17 ppg and head coach Porter Moser gave credit to first-year guard Lucas Williamson for keeping Yarbrough in check.
Ingram and Richardson have won 82 games at Loyola since their first year at Loyola during the 2014-15 season, which is the most wins over four years since the class of 1985 won 83 games in four years.
The final attendance was 4,963 fans at Gentile Arena, according to Loyola Athletics. This marks the largest crowd in four years –- since 4,577 fans packed into the arena for the game against Wichita State University Feb. 19, 2014. After the game, Moser thanked the fans for coming out and filling the arena to capacity for the first time since its renovation in 2011.
Moser’s thoughts: After the game, Moser said he thought the game was great from not only a statistical perspective, but also from a fan perspective.
“I thought it was a really good college game,” Moser said. “I thought both teams played hard and I thought the atmosphere was great. I’d like to think that I would say that same thing if we lost.”
What’s next? Loyola is scheduled to travel to St. Louis for the MVC tournament March 2 as the No. 1 seed.