After suffering back-to-back losses to Ball State University and No. 23 University of Maryland, the Loyola men’s basketball team (6-5) picked up an 80-49 victory over Norfolk State University at Gentile Arena Sunday afternoon.
The Ramblers ran an efficient offense, shooting 68.3 percent from the field while dishing 24 assists on 28 made shots. They were led in scoring by redshirt senior guard Clayton Custer, who finished with a season-high 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting, all of which came from three-point range.
Junior guard Bruno Skokna also had a big game in his return from a thumb injury, finishing with 13 points and six rebounds. Sophomore center Cameron Krutwig added 11 points and nine boards and first-year guard Cooper Kaifes had 12 points.
“It’s great to see some guys make some shots, like I’ve said all along,” head coach Porter Moser said after the game. “I thought we were defending the right way.”
Norfolk State, which finished fifth out of 13 teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference last year, saw its record fall to 4-8 overall with the loss. Last season, the Spartans went 14-19 overall and were ranked 268th out of 351 teams in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings, according to teamrankings.com.
Sophomore forward Christian Negron picked up his first collegiate start in the victory, as Moser opted to start three guards, a forward and a center instead of his usual four guards and a big man approach. Moser said he’ll be “evolving” the starting lineup this season, which he added is a change from when he had a set lineup last year.
Although he said it was “cool” to start at the collegiate level, Negron said he didn’t change how he prepared for the matchup.
“I kind of agree with [Moser], ‘Starting’s for high school,’” Negron said. “I had the same mindset starting today as I had the other games. Just go out and play a role.”
After leading 15-11 with 11:59 left in the first half, the Ramblers outscored the Spartans 31-4 and carried a 46-15 lead into the locker room. The offensive success continued into the second half as Loyola shot 13-for-18 after the break to seal the victory.
Next up, the Ramblers are scheduled to take on Division III school Benedictine University Dec. 18 at Gentile Arena at 7 p.m.