For the first time in 27 days due to COVID-19-related schedule disruptions, the Ramblers were back on the court Jan. 6. Loyola took a 79-74 victory over the University of San Francisco after a back-and-forth game.
Both teams came into the matchup in the first place spot in their respective conferences — Loyola in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) and San Francisco in the West Coast Conference.
Senior forward Ryan Schwieger was the star of the game as he surpassed his previous season high of 22 points to finish with 24. Schwieger also finished the game shooting 90% from the field and 75% from three-point territory.
Loyola managed to put the first points on the board with a three-pointer from graduate guard Lucas Williamson just over a minute in. San Francisco’s Jamaree Bouyea quickly responded with a layup to make the game 3-2.
This quick back-and-forth playing foreshadowed the half to come as the teams proceeded to stay within three points of each other until Loyola pulled four points ahead with 11:05 left in the first half thanks to a free throw from junior guard Marquise Kennedy.
Although a free-throw from Williamson brought the Ramblers up to 26-19 with just under nine minutes left, Loyola wouldn’t hold onto the lead. The Dons proceeded to tie the game at 28 with 5:37 left and fight for the advantage through the last minutes.
The game would tie twice more before halftime, but San Francisco ended up with a 39-38 lead heading into the break.
In the first half, the Dons shot 53.3% from the field compared to the Ramblers’ 41.4%. However, Loyola would come out on top as the most successful team in the second half.
The second half began with an equally tight matchup, with neither team taking more than a two-point lead for over six minutes. However, Schwieger gave the Ramblers a momentary five-point lead with a three-pointer, making the score 54-49.
The Dons quickly responded with a layup, but Schwieger put up a layup of his own to keep the Loyola lead at five points. However, San Francisco swiftly fought back to within two points to maintain a close game.
The Ramblers took off on a scoring run with 7:10 to play, with Schwieger breaking his previous season high in the process. Within 1:05, Loyola took a nine-point lead — its largest of the game.
The Dons were able to creep up within four points in the final two minutes, but it wasn’t enough to take down the Ramblers. Loyola took the game with a 79-74 victory.
Although the lead repeatedly switched throughout the game, the Ramblers finished off with 26:05 total minutes with the lead compared to the Dons’ 9:03.
The Ramblers are scheduled to play their next matchup when they kick off MVC play against Bradley University at Gentile Arena Jan. 8. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. and the game is scheduled to be broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago.