The Loyola men’s basketball team (17-11, 10-5) defeated University of Evansville 70-58 at Gentile Arena Wednesday night. The victory keeps the Ramblers tied for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) with Drake University.
Last time the two teams faced off, Evansville rolled past Loyola 67-48 Jan. 8. Loyola junior guard Bruno Skokna said between coming back from that loss and ending the Ramblers’ two-game losing streak, the rematch had a little more meaning.
“It meant a lot because we lost the last two games and we know what we can do in this league,” Skokna said. “We know our worth. We knew we needed to bounce back, especially because [Evansville] beat us by  at their place.”
Heading into the game, Loyola tied with Missouri State University for second place after Drake defeated Bradley Feb. 19. The Ramblers are tied with Drake once again for first while Missouri State falls into third place after a loss to University of Northern Iowa Feb. 20.
“When you get this late in the season, the revenge factor’s not as important as the factor of, ‘Man, we need to get this win for the conference race.'”Porter Moser, Loyola head coach
Loyola head coach Porter Moser said his team’s place in the standings meant more to him than getting revenge on the Purple Aces, who remain in last place in the MVC standings with a 5-11 conference record.
“When you get this late in the season, the revenge factor’s not as important as the factor of, ‘Man, we need to get this win for the conference race,’” Moser said. “Yeah, we didn’t play well there and they did, [but] we needed this win to get in the win column for these last four games.”
The Ramblers had three players in double digit points, led by redshirt senior guard Marques Townes’ 21 points. Sophomore center Cameron Krutwig added 18 points and six rebounds and Skokna had 13 points.
First-year guard Isaiah Bujdoso scored two points and grabbed three rebounds in 22 minutes — his most usage since Jan. 22. Moser said he was pleased with how Skokna and Bujdoso rose to the occasion in such a meaningful conference game.
“It was good to see guys that I thought really stepped up for us like Bruno Skokna and Isaiah Bujdoso,” Moser said. “Bruno has been practicing with a lot of confidence and Isaiah came in and gave some defensive push.”
Loyola came out firing in the first half, going 7-for-9 from beyond the three-point line and 16-for-23 overall — a 69.6 percent clip. On the defensive end, the Ramblers forced seven turnovers and grabbed 11 defensive rebounds.
Townes tallied 17 points heading into halftime while Skokna went a perfect 3-for-3 on three-pointers to come away with nine points. Loyola headed to the locker room up 43-29.
After the break, Evansville started finding more of a groove. The Purple Aces shot 44.4 percent from beyond the three point line and 50 percent overall — an improvement from 41.7 percent in the first half.
“[My teammates] did a really good job of stepping up and … getting other guys shots. It was all a team effort.”Marques Townes, Loyola redshirt senior guard
Krutwig was able to produce some action for Loyola, scoring 13 points of his 18 points in the second half and tallying four more rebounds. Evansville was able to hold Townes to only four points in the second half.
“They played me real well in the second half,” Townes said. “[My teammates] did a really good job stepping up and … getting other guys shots. It was all a team effort.”
The Ramblers are scheduled to play Southern Illinois University Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on ESPNU.