The Loyola men’s basketball team (21-10, 13-5) held off Bradley University’s second-half comeback with a 67-66 victory. The Ramblers locked up the No. 2 seed at the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) tournament with the win.
The Braves were in a position to win the game despite trailing by 11 points at halftime. Bradley went on a 20-0 run in the second half to take a 56-49 lead over the Ramblers with 9:10 remaining in the game. Loyola responded with a 9-0 run of its own, and the two teams were back-and-forth for the rest of the game.
Loyola junior guard Keith Clemons went to the free throw line for a 1-and-1 with nine seconds remaining and the Ramblers leading 67-66. Clemons missed the first free throw, and Bradley secured the rebound. Bradley had two potential game-winning looks in the final seconds, but senior guard Darrell Brown airballed a three-pointer and Elijah Childs missed a last-second tip near the basket.
After Keith Clemons missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Darrell Brown missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer. pic.twitter.com/NrnIyAMzKK— Kyle Brown (@KyleBrownLUC) February 29, 2020
“Coach [Brian Wardle] drew up a good play,” Childs, a junior forward, said. “We just went out there and executed. We got the shot we wanted, but sometimes they don’t fall your way. … We’ll see [Loyola] again. We’ll definitely see them again.”
Loyola head coach Porter Moser praised his team for its ability to answer back after Bradley’s 20-0 run. However, Moser also said the team has room for improvement and said the team can’t give up a 20-0 run during Arch Madness and expect to win the game.
“If you want to be champions, you have to respond,” Moser said after the game. “It was a very, very tough run that they had. To respond to that with a 9-0 run, I thought we made some tough shots.”
Bradley head coach Brian Wardle said he was disappointed the Braves couldn’t get a win in the seniors’ last home game at Carver Arena, but he was pleased with the team’s shot attempts in the final possession.
“[The] seniors [had an] unbelievable run in this building,” Wardle said. “We all wanted to win it for them, and we fell short. [I] loved the last two shots we got, couldn’t have asked for a better two looks to take the lead.”
The trio of Brown, Childs and senior Nate Kennell accounted for 58 of Bradley’s 66 points.
Loyola was led in scoring by junior center Cameron Krutwig, who scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Junior guard Lucas Williamson chipped in 15 points and three steals, but the junior guard had six turnovers. Aher Uguak was the third Rambler in double figures, notching his first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Loyola secured the No. 2 seed at Arch Madness with the win, and the Braves fell to the No. 4 seed for the tournament in St. Louis next week. The Ramblers’ first game is set to be March 6 at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago.
Loyola will face the winner of the game between the No. 7 seed versus the No. 10 seed, who play March 5 at 8:30 p.m.