Men's Basketball

Offense Stays Hot as Loyola Defeats Drake 85-74

Abby Schnable | The PhoenixLoyola redshirt senior guard Marques Townes poured in a career-high 28 points in an 85-74 win over Drake Jan. 5.

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.

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.

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