“I don’t think we looked much different from them,” Head Coach Drew Valentine said.
Loyola Men’s Basketball Falls to Fordham After Holding First Half Lead
In the first matchup between the two teams in nearly a decade, the Loyola men’s basketball team (9-18, 3-12) lost to Fordham University (22-6, 10-5), despite a last minute push.
The Rams won the tip-off to start the game and Khalid Moore quickly converted the putback layup to put Fordham on the board first. At the other end, graduate center Bryce Golden was blocked but, after a steal from first-year guard Jalen Quinn, Golden quickly made up for it by converting a layup on Loyola’s following possession.
Moore shut down Loyola’s momentum with a three-pointer, to which redshirt senior guard Braden Norris responded with a full court drive and dish to Ben Schweiger for an-and-one, open lane dunk.
With the score at 5-5, the Rams continued their full court defense on Norris who continually fought for every foot. A Fordham turnover on a bad pass led to another assist from Norris to Schweiger for an open lane, two-hand dunk. This was almost immediately silenced by Quisenberry’s three on the other end.
Senior guard Marquise Kennedy’s gritty putback was made null in void by another Fordham three-pointer from Kyle Rose to tie the game. On the following play, Golden backed Quisenberry down from the free throw line for a quick hook shot, giving Loyola the 17-15 lead with 13 minutes left in the half.
Alston finally squeaked in a layup over Fordham’s Elijah Gray off the inbound, giving the Ramblers a five point lead at 20-15 during a scoreless six minutes for the Rams.
Norris got his fourth assist on a bounce pass into the lane for a Golden up and under layup, to which Fordham’s Abdou Tsumbila responded with a three-pointer. Tsumbila was then fouled and made both 1-and-1 free throws, cutting the lead to one at 22-21.
After a powerful drive by Quisenberry resulted in Fordham taking back the lead, the crowd was immediately silenced by a three-pointer from Rose and an alley-oop dunk by Tsimbila. Now down 28-25, Loyola Head Coach Drew Valentine called his team’s first timeout.
The Ramblers cut their deficit to one after a layup by Quinn, Norris tied the game back up at 29 with a trip to the free throw line.
The fouls became the story of the half but did not alter the game’s intensity. After the free throws, Golden caught an Alston pass mid-jump and scored behind Fordham defenders, giving them a 36-32 lead. Out of a timeout, Fordham dribbled out to take the last shot of the half and found Moore for the corner three — to take the lead at the half 36-35.
Despite playing from behind, Fordham shot 37.5% from three compared to the Ramblers’ 16.7%. From the floor, the Ramblers had the edge, shooting 50% to the Rams’ 33.3%.
To start the second half, the Rams got on the board first with a quick layup, but Alston struck back with a floater in the paint to take back the lead at 38-37.
With nine minutes left, Alston converted the first of his one-and-one free throws, making the game 53-49 in favor of the Rams. On their next possession, he scored his 18th point of the game on a three-pointer from the top of the key.
With seven minutes left in the game, a jump ball gave the Ramblers the ball back and allowed Alston to drive his way to the line. On the next play, he would get his fourth foul and be subbed out, returning only for offensive possessions from there on out.
“I don’t wanna leave the game, but when it’s winning time, you gotta do what you gotta do to win,” Alston said. “I try to play a little smarter, but at the end of the day, I gotta keep going hard.”
This gave the Rams a five-point lead and forced the Ramblers to trail once more.
A double technical on Norris and Rose occurred before Norris went to the line while missing the first and making the second, closing the gap between them and the Rams 62-59.
With less than two minutes left, Quisenberry slowed the game down and made room for a Charlton fadeaway jumper, giving them a three-point buffer. But a stepback three from Edwards that left Rose stumbling tied the game with just over a minute remaining.
Down by three at 69-66, the Ramblers would get two, back-to-back three point attempts from Golden at the wing and Edwards in the deep corner, but neither were enough as Tsimbila was sent to the line and gave the Rams a five point lead.
A half-court heave from Golden put the ball in Edwards’ hands who would nail the three with 3.4 seconds left. Wilson then fouled Charlton on the inbound who missed both free throws, but none of the Ramblers could get a shot off after the rebound, losing 71-69.
Valentine gave Fordham credit, but said his team lost on free throws and three-pointers. The team shot 65.5% from the line and made only four threes, shooting 23.5% from three-point territory.
“I don’t think we looked much different from them,” Valentine said. “It confirms, once again, that we are better than our record, or we can play with anybody in this league.”
The Ramblers’ last game of the month is set for Feb. 25 in St. Louis against Saint Louis University. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
Featured image courtesy of Steve Woltmann