In its last regular-season home game of the season, the Loyola men’s basketball team (20-10, 12-5) snuck past Drake University 64-60 at Gentile Arena Tuesday night. The victory keeps the Ramblers in position for a top-two seed at next week’s conference tournament.
Loyola led 50-39 with 9:14 to go and had held Drake to nine second-half points at the time. But the Bulldogs came back to cut the deficit to two points, 55-53, with 5:10 to play.
From there, the two teams went back-and-forth to an eventual 62-60 game with 13 seconds left. Loyola tried to inbound, but the ball went out of bounds off Ramblers guard Keith Clemons’ leg to give the Bulldogs possession with 9.2 seconds to play.
On the ensuing inbound, Drake junior guard Jonah Jackson missed a three-pointer and Clemons was fouled getting the rebound. He made two free throws on the other end to seal the game and secure a perfect 9-0 home record in Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) action. This is the first time since 1984-85 Loyola went undefeated at home in conference play.
“We had a chance to extend it to a three-possession game and we didn’t twice,” Loyola head coach Porter Moser said after the game. “On that last play, Tate [Hall] was wide open and we went to Keith and it went off his [leg]. We’ve got to make better decisions. … I thought Drake did a really nice job. Jackson got a shot.”
As a team, Loyola shot 22-for-47 from the floor and just 1-for-6 from three-point territory. The Ramblers also went 19-for-31 from the free throw line, and Moser noted the missed free throws that would’ve given his team “a little more breathing room.”
Drake sophomore forward Liam Robbins gave the Ramblers trouble when the two teams faced off in Des Moines, Iowa Jan. 7. He tallied 20 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks as the Bulldogs defeated the Ramblers 65-62.
This time around, Robbins scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but fouled out with three seconds left. Moser gave credit to Krutwig, saying he had “the best defensive game on our team.” Krutwig was tasked with defending the 7-foot big man whom Moser said has his vote for first team All-MVC.
“I just had to take the challenge on, and he definitely got me at their place,” Krutwig said. “I just came in with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. … I was just kind of taking it upon myself to do more, be more aggressive. He’s a really good shot blocker.”
Krutwig led the Ramblers with 17 points while redshirt junior guard Tate Hall and first-year guard Marquise Kennedy each had 11. Kennedy went down with an injury late in the second half and didn’t return to the game despite walking back to the bench.
Moser said Kennedy “tweaked” his right ankle — the same ankle that’s given him problems throughout the year — and added the three days until the next game will be used to help him rest it a bit.
Since it was the last regular-season home game of the season, it was also Senior Night for Loyola senior guard Bruno Skokna. He started for the first time this year and scored two points in four minutes.
Skokna averaged 15.7 minutes per game over his first three years at Loyola, but has only played 7.8 minutes per game this year. But Skokna has also tied Loyola greats Donte Ingram and Ben Richardson for the most wins at Loyola in his career, and Moser said he was worried Skokna wouldn’t be able to play in his Senior Night because he was sick.
“I know the minutes aren’t what he wants and he’s never made it about him,” Moser said. “I was bummed for him tonight because he was really, really sick the last two days. … I’m glad he had the game where we won to tie that record here.”
Loyola is next scheduled to close out the regular season at Bradley University in Peoria Feb. 29. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.