Despite a big game from sophomore center Cameron Krutwig, the Loyola men’s basketball team (5-4) fell to Ball State University 75-69 at Gentile Arena Wednesday night. The Ramblers have now lost three of their last four games.
Krutwig led the Ramblers in scoring with 19 points to go with eight rebounds. He shot 9-for-12 on the night, while the rest of the team shot a combined 14-for-42 — a 33.3 percent clip — from the field. Loyola also shot 6-for-22 from the three-point line, its third-lowest total from outside this season.
“We didn’t shoot a great percentage,” Loyola head coach Porter Moser said after the game. “But we had our opportunities … there’s nights you’re going to make a lot [of shots], there’s nights you’re not. You still have to find a way to win.”
Ball State, which improved to 6-3 with the victory, went 10-8 in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) last year and was picked to finish second in the MAC Western Division this season.
Head coach James Whitford said the Cardinals’ game plan was to focus heavily on containing Krutwig. After the game, he said he was pleased with his team’s defensive efforts while guarding the 6-foot-9 center.
“Krutwig is one of the best 10 to 15 big men in the country,” Whitford said. “We really focused on keeping the ball out of his hands. He still had a great game, but we did a good job of making it hard for him.”
Ball State held Loyola to 69 points, tied for the Cardinals’ second-lowest total points allowed this season. All four of the Ramblers’ losses have come when they’ve failed to score 70 points.
Loyola redshirt senior guard Marques Townes had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Townes also dished out six assists while playing a team-high 39 minutes. While he succeeded on offense, Townes said defensive lapses played big roles in the loss.
“At the end of the day, it just comes down to defensive principles and just having focus to do all the little things,” Townes said. “We didn’t really do that tonight.”
Following the loss, Moser echoed Townes’ thoughts and said the defense needs to improve down the stretch. He said Ball State earned the victory through multiple defensive stops in the last two minutes.
“It’s very hard to win giving up 57 percent [field goal shooting],” Moser said. “You can win a lot of games still shooting 42 percent … on nights we shoot 42 percent, we have to find ways to win.”
The Cardinals’ 57 percent shooting is the second-highest mark allowed by Loyola so far this season. It trails only the 58 percent given up in a 79-65 loss to No. 5 University of Nevada Nov. 27.
Loyola sophomore guard Lucas Williamson missed his second game due to a broken hand that’s expected to keep him sidelined until January. Junior guard Bruno Skokna was also unable to play due to a sprained thumb, leaving the Ramblers with eight healthy scholarship players against Ball State. After the game, Moser said Skokna’s expected to be out two weeks with the injury.
“I’m not going to sit here and blame that we were short-handed,” Moser said. “We had opportunities to win this game and it all starts with not getting stops down the stretch.”
Next on the schedule, Loyola is set to travel to Baltimore to take on No. 23 University of Maryland Dec. 8. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.