After suffering its first home non-conference loss since 2015 Nov. 9, the Loyola men’s basketball team (2-1) bounced back to defeat Niagara University 75-62 at Gentile Arena Wednesday night. The game was the Ramblers’ first of the Fort Myers Tip-Off tournament, which starts with two games at campus sites before moving to Fort Myers, Florida Nov. 19-21.
Sophomore center Cameron Krutwig led the Ramblers in scoring with 18 points while shooting a perfect 7-of-7 from the field. Through the first three games of the season, Krutwig has 37 points on 15-of-15 shooting.
“My teammates are giving me good looks … I’m just getting layups and getting to my hook [shot],” Krutwig said. “It was just a team effort tonight.”
Four Ramblers scored in double figures — Krutwig had 18 points, redshirt sophomore forward Aher Uguak and redshirt senior guard Marques Townes had 15 points and redshirt senior guard Clayton Custer had 14. Krutwig added 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the young season while also dishing out three assists and blocking four shots.
Head coach Porter Moser said involving Krutwig more in the offense was the focal point of his halftime adjustments.
“[Krutwig] is taking good shots,” Moser said. “We have to continue to get him the ball and it was a total emphasis to start the second half.”
For the second straight game, Loyola struggled early on. Niagara led for the majority of the first half until the Ramblers ended the period on a 9-2 run. This, paired with a 16-2 run to start the second half, gave Loyola a lead it would not relinquish.
“During a game, you’re going to have these ebbs and flows, you’re going to be really high and really low,” Krutwig said. “We try to stay right at the midline and try to keep our emotions in check throughout the game. When they went up like that, it was all positive in the huddle and we all said, ‘Let’s get back out there and do what we do.’”
Although Custer had 14 points, he was in foul trouble for much of the game. Custer committed his fourth foul with 11:37 remaining in the second half, and Moser sat him until the 5:52 mark.
His absence was felt, as Loyola’s 17-point lead dwindled to just 10 and the Ramblers also committed six of their 10 turnovers during that span. Last year, Loyola had a 30-3 record with Custer in the lineup and a 2-3 record as he recovered from an ankle injury.
“I don’t ever like not to have him,” Moser said. “He’s fun to have, but I thought [first-year guard] Isaiah [Bujdoso] came in and gave us some nice minutes. I thought Marques was a warrior tonight.”
Next on the schedule, Loyola is set to take on Grambling State University Nov. 16 at Gentile Arena at 7 p.m. This game is also part of the Fort Myers Tip-Off and is the last home game before the Ramblers play a pair of games in Fort Myers.