Strong performances by redshirt senior guards Marques Townes and Clayton Custer propelled the Loyola men’s basketball team (9-6, 2-0) to an 85-74 win over Drake University Saturday afternoon in Des Moines, Iowa. The Ramblers are now 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2003-04, when they were a member of the Horizon League.
Townes led all scorers with a career-high 28 points while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out five assists. Custer also set a new career-best with 26 points, on 6-for-8 shooting from behind the three-point line. Sophomore center Cameron Krutwig added 13 points, six boards and six assists to the effort.
Drake entered conference play with an 11-2 record, which was the best in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), but dropped its first two conference games and lost forward Nick Norton to a season-ending knee injury Jan. 2. Norton was named MVC Newcomer of the Week three times this season and was averaging 14 points per game — which ranked second on the team — and a team-high 5.9 assists per game before the injury.
Both offenses came out strong in the first half. Drake started out shooting 10-for-10, including 7-for-7 from downtown, to take an early 30-14 lead. But Loyola battled back, going on a 32-10 run in the final 12:06 of the half to take a 46-40 lead into the break.
The Ramblers’ offense continued to roll in the second half, outscoring Drake 39-34 while shooting 56.5 percent in the final 20 minutes to seal the victory.
As a team, the Ramblers shot 12-for-24 from beyond the arc, up from their season-average of 18.8 three-point attempts per game. Loyola’s 63.3 percent shooting percentage is its second-highest mark of the season behind a 68.3 percent outburst against Norfolk State University Dec. 16. The Ramblers are now shooting a combined 59.6 percent through two MVC games, including 46.7 percent from three-point territory.
Loyola sophomore guard Lucas Williamson, who has been out with a broken hand since Nov. 27, was seen warming up before the game but wasn’t in uniform on the bench. Williamson’s cast came off Jan. 3 and he told The Phoenix he hopes to be back in the rotation soon.
UPDATE: #Loyola G Lucas Williamson tells me his cast came off today. He still has to rehab his hand, meaning he will not play Saturday against Drake, but his return to the lineup is on the horizon. #MVCHoops— Nick Schultz (@NickSchultz_7) January 3, 2019
Next up, Loyola is scheduled to travel to University of Evansville Jan. 8. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT and the game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.