The Loyola men’s basketball team (1-0) defeated University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) 76-45 at Gentile Arena in its first game of the 2018-19 season Tuesday night.
Fans were lining up for the 8 p.m. start time as early as 5:15 p.m., and lines went from Gentile to outside the Damen Student Center. Attendance for the game was 3,795, a large increase from last year’s home opener, which was 2,814. After the game, head coach Porter Moser said he was excited about how full the stands were.
This is just the outside pet of the line not even inside Damen. One word: insanity pic.twitter.com/gvie5Hdxwr
— Abby Schnable (@abby_schnable) November 7, 2018
“It was great to see the excitement from the crowd,” Moser said. “I’m greedy. I want sellouts every game, but I thought the students were really noisy. I thought the students were everything you want in a student section. They were standing, they were loud. Even in the second half, so it was fun to see the atmosphere.”
The Ramblers never lost control, shooting 54.7 percent from the field and 36.4 percent behind the 3-point line. First-year guard Cooper Kaifes started his collegiate career strong, leading the way with 19 points on 6 of 8 shooting — including 5 of 7 from beyond the 3-point line. He didn’t miss a shot through the first half.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this good, but all I had to do was just come to the game,” Kaifes said. “All my teammates were being crazy positive through the whole warmups. I just trusted everything I’ve done to prepare for this and I’m just thankful to my teammates for giving me open shots.”
First-year forward Franklin Agunanne didn’t score a point, but was a defensive force for the Ramblers with nine rebounds.
Moser said Agunanne’s defensive performance showed the depth of the team’s three rotating centers — Agunanne, sophomore Cameron Krutwig and sophomore Christian Negron — provide for the Ramblers.
“I thought [Agunanne] did some really good things defensively and he was big,” Moser said. “If you remember last year when Krutwig went out, and actually last year we talked about how Krutwig’s the first true center we had. We can remain having a physical presence there with Frank. We’ve got some options with those three bigs.”
Sophomore guard Lucas Williamson also had nine rebounds to go with five points. Krutwig didn’t miss a single shot from the field, going 5-for-5 with 10 points and grabbed six rebounds.
Loyola is scheduled to return to Gentile to play Furman University Nov. 9. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.