The Ramblers were led by Dame Adelekun who put-up a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Loyola Outlasts Late Surge Defeating the University of New Orleans 73-70
The Loyola men’s basketball team picked up their second win of the season against the University of New Orleans 73-70. The Ramblers staved off a push by fourth-year guard Jordan Johnson who nearly brought the Privateers all the way back, scoring five-three pointers and totaling 21 points in the second half.
The Ramblers were led by graduate forward Dame Adelekun who put-up a double-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Third-year guard Des Watson had another strong performance finishing with 19 points. Graduate forward Tom Welch made a huge impact off the bench with nine points and eight rebounds.
The Privateers were unbeaten at 2-0 coming into play while the Ramblers were looking to get even at 2-2 after falling to the University of Illinois Chicago 72-67 Nov. 14.
Adelekun got Loyola started early in the game. He scored six quick points to give the Ramblers an early lead, hitting two shots in the post before making it 6-2 with a hard two-hand slam. He scored three more a few minutes later drawing a foul after getting to the rim. He converted on the and-one putting Loyola up 13-5.
Adeleken earned his first start of the season filling in for fourth-year forward Philip Alston who missed the game due to a calf strain. Alston will also miss the two games next week in Kansas City, Missouri at the Hall of Fame Classic, according to head coach Drew Valentine.
Watson hit two quick threes — the second coming after fourth-year guard Braden Norris found him wide-open in the corner from across the floor — to put New Orleans down 19-10 after eight minutes of play.
Johnson stormed right back for New Orleans, scoring seven unanswered points. Fourth-year Privateer forward Tyson Jackson hit two free throws to even it up at 19-19. Norris ended a three-minute Loyola scoring drought with a corner three which gave Loyola a 22-19 advantage.
Welch propelled the Ramblers to a 32-24 lead with just over four minutes left after scoring six straight points in the paint. He then dished it to first-year center Miles Rubin for an easy lay-in. A few possessions later Welch added three more after graduate guard Greg Dolan found him wide-open for a corner three-pointer.
The Privateers mainly picked up points at the line down the stretch. Adelekun helped Loyola maintain their lead with two free throws and Watson finished a fast-break layup which sent the teams to the locker rooms with Loyola leading 41-31 at the half.
Out of the break the teams traded buckets until Loyola created some separation at 50-39 when Dolan picked up an assist finding Rubin cutting inside for an easy dunk and Watson converted an and-one after he was fouled on a pull-up mid-range jumper.
Johnson helped New Orleans stay in it, responding with a deep three off the dribble which cut the deficit to eight. A few possessions later, Dolan banked in a corner three but two quick Privateer baskets in transition forced Loyola to call time-out up 55-48 with under thirteen minutes left.
Adelekun balanced the Ramblers, scoring five quick points with a post-hook and three free throws. Loyola led 61-50 after Norris hit Watson cutting on the baseline for a dunk that lit up Gentile Arena.
New Orleans got back into a seven-point run which began after third-year guard Carlos Hart got wide open for a three. They drew within four a few possessions later when third-year guard Jamond Vincent slammed it down on a fast break.
Rubin cut and laid it in at the rim to stop the bleeding then Watson spun around a defender in the post for an easy layup, giving Loyola 65-57 lead. Johnson answered with a contested three-pointer from about 25 feet away from the hoop.
Dolan responded with his own three but Johnson would hit another from nearly the same spot. Then he threw up a deep off-balance three which found the bottom of the net, cutting the Rambler lead to 68-66 with just under five minutes to play.
Norris and Adelekun each made two free throws while Johnson pulled up for a 30-foot shot with pinpoint accuracy, making it 72-70 with two minutes to go. On the next possession, Johnson uncharacteristically airballed a three-point attempt, after the rebound New Orleans forced a jump ball and retained possession.
Hart missed a pull-up jumper at the shot clock buzzer and Loyola pushed down court with a chance to put the game away. Adelekun missed a shot from the post, but Welch worked hard for the offensive rebound. Another jump ball was called, this time favoring Loyola.
Watson drove to the rim, but the ball rolled off, and Adelekun grabbed another offensive rebound and was fouled going back up. He made one shot at the line, leaving the door open for New Orleans down 73-70 with 27 seconds left.
The Ramblers didn’t let the Privateers get set in the half-court and, through two traps near mid-court, forced Johnson to put up a deep contested three which bricked away, allowing Loyola to escape with a close victory.
After the game, Valentine said he thought the team adapted well to Alston’s absence and said he was happy to see Adelekun and Welch turn in good performances.
“You’ve got to find ways to win, and it’s not always going to be pretty,” Valentine said. “Especially being down personnel who have a big impact on what we envision for this team’s success. I thought on a short turn around, the guys did a good job stepping up.”
Over Thanksgiving, the Ramblers will travel to Kansas City, Missouri where they will play two games in the Hall of Fame Classic Nov. 22-23. First up is No. 8 Creighton University on Wednesday. First-tip is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
Featured image by Krisjanis Kaugars | The Phoenix