The Loyola men’s basketball team (8-3, 3-1) grabbed a win over Indiana State 58-48 Jan. 11 after suffering a loss in the first game of the series Jan. 10. The Ramblers’ strong defensive play held the Sycamores to a season-low 35.6% shooting from the field.
After tallying his fifth rebound of the game, senior center Cameron Krutwig became the fourth player in Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) history to tally 1,500 points, 800 rebounds and 300 assists. He joins the ranks of former MVC players and Basketball Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird and Hersey Hawkins. Krutwig is also one of only 12 NCAA players to achieve these statistics in the last decade.
Krutwig led the Ramblers in points against the Sycamores with 16, followed by redshirt senior forward Aher Uguak with nine. This marks the first time all season Loyola only had one player reach double figures.
Loyola head coach Porter Moser said Krutwig was key to the team’s victory at Indiana State after struggling in the first matchup.
“For whatever reason … he didn’t have a very good game last night, and we challenged him,” Moser said. “I thought he was really good defensively and offensively, I thought he was really loud, vocal, he led us … Totally different from last night and I thought Krutwig was the difference.”
Indiana State head coach Greg Lansing also said Krutwig was a major piece in Loyola’s game due to being difficult for the Sycamores to guard.
“He’s just defensive with the ball,” Lansing said. “He’s like a point-guard center, he’s such a good passer, he’s crafty with his pivoting and I thought he was the difference in the game.”
Coming into the game, the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) — a metric used to estimate the strength of each team and part of the process used to determine at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament — ranked Loyola at No. 3 in the MVC and Indiana State at No. 5. Out of all 345 teams, Loyola came in at No. 79 and Indiana State at No. 132 through Jan. 10.
Redshirt senior guard Tate Hall scored the first points of the game with a three-pointer for Loyola, kicking off a back-and-forth first half. Indiana State managed to stretch its lead to eight points in the eighth minute before the margin closed again and the Ramblers took a 27-24 lead into halftime.
Although Loyola only shot 40% from the field in the first half, the team was able to limit Indiana State to just 37.5% shooting. Both teams suffered in terms of free-throws, with the Ramblers shooting 42.9% and the Sycamores only 25%.
Moser said even when his players aren’t shooting their best, they’ve been able to win by focusing more on other areas.
“We’ve just kind of had this mantra of ‘You can win, don’t put all the pressure on your shots, put your pressure on defending and rebounds,’” Moser said.
The Ramblers quickly increased their lead in the second half, and eventually saw it climb to eight points for a 40-32 score seven minutes in. The Sycamores were unable to score on Loyola from the field for six minutes as the Ramblers held a five-point lead. The Ramblers proceeded to increase their lead to 10 points — the largest in the game by either team — by shooting 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the last two minutes.
Loyola improved to 45.5% shooting from the field in the second half, whereas the Sycamores fell further to 33.3%. Both teams improved their free-throws in the second half with Loyola rising to 90% shooting and Indiana State to 77.8%.
The Ramblers also improved on turnovers compared to the previous game, only notching 10 overall. The team piled up six in just over three minutes late in the second half Jan. 10.
Indiana State sophomore forward Jake LaRavia said the Sycamores’ mistakes in the first half are what cost them the game, especially due to the Ramblers’ skills on defense.
“We were stricken a little bit on the offensive production, they were making it hard for us and we weren’t fighting through it very well,” LaRavia said.
The Ramblers are set to play University of Northern Iowa at Gentile Arena Jan. 16. The Panthers and Loyola were picked to finish first and second in the conference, respectively, in the MVC preseason poll. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m and will be broadcast on ESPN2 or ESPNU.