Strong Second Half Lifts Men’s Basketball Over Davidson 69-59

Men’s basketball won 69-59 against Davidson College March 6, completing a season-long sweep against the team.

The Loyola men’s basketball team completed the season sweep of Davidson College and spoiled senior night for the Wildcats March 6 with a 69-59 victory at the Belk Arena in Davidson, North Carolina. 

Third-year guard Des Watson helped lead the Ramblers with 13 points and five assists along with first-year center Miles Rubin who finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Graduate guard Braden Norris chimed in with 11 points while fourth-year guard Conner Kochera stood out for Davidson with 22 points. 

The Ramblers made their final road trip of the regular season sitting at 21-8 and 13-3 in A-10 play after picking up a notable win against No. 21 Dayton University March 1. Davidson entered play with an overall record of 15-14 and a conference record of 5-11. 

The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead after fourth-year guard Grant Huffman and Kochera got driving layups to fall. Second-year guard Jalen Quinn got Loyola on the board with two free throws before graduate forward Dame Adelekun scored with a post move. 

Kochera kept Davidson ahead with two more layups before first-year Wildcat forward Bobby Durkin hit a shot in the paint through a foul and converted at the line, putting his team up 12-6. Second-year guard Jayden Dawson cut into the lead with an open 3-pointer and Watson laid it in on a fast break, making it 12-11. 

Durkin pushed the pace and scored inside before Watson tied the game at 14 with a 3-pointer. Davidson rattled off a 7-0 run punctuated by a dunk from second-year forward Sean Logan. Quinn got Loyola humming after dropping in a driving layup through heavy Wildcat contact. 

Fourth-year guard Sheldon Edwards connected from beyond the arc before the Ramblers briefly took a 22-21 lead off a Rubin two-hand slam. Kochera drove the lane, retaking the lead again for Davidson. Norris hit a 3-pointer and Rubin banked in a shot from the block, bringing the score to 27-24 with just under four minutes to play in the first half. 

Kochera evened the score with a 3-pointer of his own but a quick response from Norris who made a driving layup and an Edwards 3-pointer put Loyola up 32-28. On the half’s final possession, Kochera put up a 3-pointer that was offline but Durkin beat the buzzer with a tip-in, sending the teams to the locker rooms with just two points between them at 32-30. 

Dawson kicked off the second half with a mid-range jumper and on the other end, Kochera extended around Rubin for a lay in, keeping it tight at 34-32. Rubin created some separation after he posted up for a bucket then hit a hook shot on the next possession. Watson scored in transition off an Alston steal, quickly putting Loyola ahead 40-32. 

Kochera was undeterred and came back with a 3-pointer and a fade away jumper at the top of the key, bringing his team back within three at 40-37. Watson and Alston both turned in successful trips to the charity stripe, giving the Ramblers a 44-37 cushion. 

Norris connected on another 3-pointer before Huffman stopped the bleeding after pump faking Alston to make it 48-39. Rubin found success in the post again and Norris drained another 3-pointer capping off the 13-2 run and forcing Davidson into a timeout down 53-39. 

Edwards extended the Loyola lead with continued success from beyond the arc while second-year Wildcat guard Angelo Brizzi fought hard to get his team back in it with five quick points off a 3-pointer and a reverse layup. Rubin hammered home another dunk to put Loyola up 59-46. 

Quinn and second-year Davidson guard Riccardo Ghedini traded buckets inside before Alston extended the 63-50 lead with two free throws. The Wildcats went into a full court press as the game progressed into its final minutes.

Kochera made two free throws and Durkin hit a three in the corner, but it was too little, too late as the Ramblers closed out the 69-59 victory. 

Loyola head coach Drew Valentine credited Davidson and said they prevented his team from getting the looks they wanted early in the first half.

“We locked into our game plan and we turned up our intensity, especially going into the second half,” Valentine said. “We amped up our urgency defensively, and offensively our execution and pace got better.”

The Ramblers gained a slight edge over the Wildcats in rebounds finishing with 37 to Davidson’s 34. Loyola’s 13 assists outpaced the Wildcats who finished with 11, however Davidson took better care of the ball only surrendering 11 turnovers to the Ramblers’ 12. Loyola shot at a higher clip ending the game with a field goal percentage of 45% while the Wildcats shot just 38% from the floor.

Featured image by Aidan Cahill | The Phoenix

Griffin Krueger

Griffin Krueger

Griffin Krueger is the Editor-in-Chief of The Phoenix. He began working for The Phoenix during his first week at Loyola and previously served as Assistant News Editor and Sports Editor. Krueger is a fourth-year Political Science major with minors in Economics and History. In his free time he enjoys reading and exploring the city on his bike.