In its opening match of the Myrtle Beach Invitational, the Loyola men’s basketball team (2-1) lost 85-66 to The University of Tulsa Nov. 17. Loyola was sunk by committing 22 turnovers that created 34 points for the Golden Hurricane.
Loyola won the tip-off to start the game, but Tulsa’s Sam Griffin stole the ball from redshirt senior guard Braden Norris to end their possession. Just seconds later, sophomore guard Saint Thomas stole the ball back from Griffin and was fouled on a fastbreak layup. Thomas was then able to make both free throws to give the Ramblers the first score of the game.
The Golden Hurricane were quick to respond with a three-pointer by Tim Dalger to put Tulsa on top 3-2. Not slowing down, Brandon Betson stole the ball from Thomas and passed it to Dalger, who made a fastbreak layup to give Tulsa a four-point lead.
In the first five minutes of play, Loyola committed six turnovers while experiencing a scoring drought. After recovering from a knee injury, senior guard Marquise Kennedy made a three-pointer — his first basket of the season — to end the drought and cut Tulsa’s lead to three.
Building momentum, Loyola drained three shots from three-point territory to lead by one — its first lead since the first minute of the game. Senior forward Tom Welch made three layups to cap off a 15-0 Loyola scoring run and give the Ramblers a seven-point lead.
Responding to Loyola’s barrage of baskets, Dalger converted a layup through contact and Keyshawn Embery-Simpson made a pair of free throws to give Tulsa a 25-24 lead with three minutes left in the half. However, its lead was short-lived as junior guard Sheldon Edwards lobbed a pass to junior forward Philip Alston for an alley-oop dunk.
At halftime, the game was tied at 30. Both teams were led offensively by their forwards, as Alston and Dalger scored nine points each in the half. In his first game of the season, Kennedy scored five points in the half while dishing out one assist.
The second half began with back-and-forth scoring as Norris drained a three-pointer while Tulsa made a layup and a jump shot. Tulsa quickly built a three-point lead with a jump shot by Griffin and a pair of free throws by Sterling Gaston-Chapman.
Loyola was quick to respond as Alston converted a three-point scoring opportunity to tie the game.
Not long after, Dalger made a second-chance layup and two three-pointers to put the Golden Hurricane up eight. The Ramblers responded with a three-pointer by Kennedy, but Griffin and Betson both drained a three-pointer to increase Tulsa’s lead to 11.
In the first 10 minutes of the half, Loyola shot just 4-14 from the field while committing five turnovers. In the span of three minutes, Tulsa went on a 12-0 scoring run thanks to three Loyola turnovers to lead 58-41.
The Ramblers attempted to catch up to the Golden Hurricane, but it was too late to take their lead back as Tulsa held a double-digit lead for the rest of the half. With five seconds left in the game, Griffin made a three-pointer to seal his team’s 85-66 win.
Loyola Head Coach Drew Valentine said he was happy to see Kennedy playing again after his knee injury despite the loss.
“We missed him and he’s still not back fully 100%,” Valentine said. “We’re still trying to figure out who we are and what it’s going to take to be successful.”
Loyola is set to face Boise State University in its second match in the Myrtle Beach Invitational Nov. 18. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and the game is set to broadcast on ESPN+.