Arch Madness

Arch Madness: Loyola Squeaks Past Northern Iowa 54-50, Advances to Semifinals

Nick Schultz | The PHOENIX

What went down: No. 1 seed Loyola (26-5, 15-3) took on No. 9 seed University of Northern Iowa (16-16, 7-11) in the quarterfinals of Arch Madness Friday afternoon. The Ramblers defeated the Panthers 54-50 to advance to the Arch Madness semifinals for the first time since 2015.

How it happened: Neither team shot well, going a combined 3-for-13 from behind the three-point line before halftime. Loyola made five of its last six shots of the first half to take a 25-21 lead into the break. The two teams went back-and-forth in the second half, but Loyola held on to get the victory.

Analysis: The Loyola offense was stagnant for most of the first half. The Ramblers only made one of their first 10 shots. Although the shooting improved as the half drew on, Loyola finished with a 44.2 shooting percentage for the game, which is less than its season average of 51 percent.

Loyola was led by redshirt junior Marques Townes and senior forward Donte Ingram, who had 13 points each. Townes scored Loyola’s first six points until Ingram drained a three-pointer, and that allowed Loyola to slowly build up the offense. Ingram also had eight rebounds and shot 5-for-7 for the game.

Senior guard Ben Richardson also had a solid game for Loyola. The Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Defensive Player of the Year scored nine points, dished six assists and totaled four steals on the game. Richardson also hit a three-pointer at the end of the shot clock with under seven minutes left, which got the Loyola fans excited and provided some energy to the offense.

Redshirt junior guard Clayton Custer — the MVC Player of the Year — only scored two points on 1-for-7 shooting. In his last two games, Custer has scored a combined five points on 2-for-17 shooting.

Moser’s thoughts: After the game, Loyola head coach Porter Moser credited his team’s composure to his upperclassmen and their experience in close games.

“We’ve been down a number of games, and we just have to keep grinding,” Moser said. “It’s a confidence. It’s togetherness and just not panicking.”

What’s next? Loyola is scheduled to play the winner of No. 4 seed Drake University vs. No. 5 seed Bradley University in the Arch Madness semifinals March 3.

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