The Loyola men’s basketball team (16-11, 9-5) fell to Missouri State University 65-61 in nail-biting fashion in front of over 4,700 fans at Gentile Arena Sunday afternoon. The loss ends Loyola’s 13-game home conference win streak, dating back to Jan. 3, 2018.
Loyola is now in a three-way tie with Missouri State and Drake University for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference with four games left before the conference tournament. With the win, Missouri State completes the regular-season sweep of Loyola. The Bears rolled past the Ramblers 70-35 Jan. 23 in Springfield, Missouri.
Updated #MVCHoops Standings through 14 games:— Nick Schultz (@NickSchultz_7) February 17, 2019
1. Loyola 9-5
1. Missouri State 9-5
1. Drake 9-5
4. Bradley 7-7
4. Illinois State 7-7
4. Southern Illinois 7-7
4. Northern Iowa 7-7
8. Valparaiso 6-8
9. Indiana State 5-9
10. Evansville 4-10
Four games left. Wow.
The Ramblers were led by sophomore center Cameron Krutwig, who finished with a career high 24 points and six rebounds. Redshirt senior guard Marques Townes also chipped in 23 points and dished five assists.
“I thought Missouri State came here and earned it,” Loyola head coach Porter Moser said. “They made some big time shots late in the shot clock, so all I can say is hats off to them. I thought they came in and earned it.”
Missouri State shot a season-best 68.8 percent from three-point range, knocking down 11 triples in the victory. This came as a result of a conservative offensive approach, highlighted by opting to hold the ball late into the shot clock before unloading from deep.
“We’ve got to play better three-point defense,” Townes said. “That’s basically the game right there. 11-for-16 from three coming into our house. That’s not how to win a game right there.”
The first half saw the Ramblers recover from a slow start as the Bears took a 12-5 lead into the game’s first media timeout. Loyola would close the half on a 21-15 run from that point and headed to the locker room trailing 27-26. Krutwig and Townes combined for 18 first half points.
In the second half, the Bears quickly rebuilt an eight point lead early as they knocked down their first four shots from the field, all of which being three pointers. The Ramblers were able get back into contention late as they trailed by as little as one point within the last minute.
With a chance to tie the game late, Townes was fouled and made one of two free throws, leaving the score at 62-61. Missouri State redshirt junior forward Tulio Da Silva made both free throws on the other end to extend the Bears’ lead to 64-61. Coming back, Townes was fouled again and his missed free chance allowed Missouri State to get the ball back and put the game out of reach.
The Ramblers’ offense continued to run through Krutwig and Townes in the last 20 minutes, as the duo combined for 31 of Loyola’s 35 second-half points. Redshirt senior guard Clayton Custer was the only other Loyola player to sink a field goal after halftime.
“They did two things: They made those big shots and they made their free throws at the end. We didn’t.”Porter Moser, Loyola head coach
“They did two things: They made those big shots and they made their free throws at the end. We didn’t,” Moser said. “We didn’t make our free throws to close out.”
The Ramblers’ season is scheduled to continue Feb. 20 as they take on University of Evansville at Gentile Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted on NBC Sports Chicago.