Loyola (4-1) knocked off Kent State (4-2) Saturday 69-61 for its second consecutive win on the road. The Ramblers held a 40-22 halftime lead and led by 20 points in the first half. In the second half, they staved off the Golden Flashes comeback.
The Golden Flashes got as close as three points with 7:12 to play but never got over the hump.
Loyola shot the lights out in the first half to build a cushion, but the offense actually took a few minutes to get going. The Ramblers were held scoreless for the first 2:30 of this game.
Junior guard Devon Turk, who is on pace to become Loyola’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, knocked down a pair of triples put Loyola on the board. Turk finished with 15 points and had another timely 3-pointer with 12:29 left in the second half. At that point, Loyola was counteracting one of Kent State’s several second-half spurts.
Once Turk woke up the offense in the first half, the Ramblers scored of 15 of their next 17 possessions.
The Ramblers’ offense again stalled to begin the second half, and this time it took a little longer for their scoring to pick up. Turk made a layup on the Ramblers’ third possession of the period and sophomore guard Milton Doyle made two free throws a few minutes later. But Loyola did not convert another field-goal attempt until senior forward Christian Thomas knocked down a 3-pointer with 13:21 remaining.
Thomas finished with a game-high 16 points.
Doyle, Loyola’s leading scorer, did not have a great night scoring the basketball at 2-for-6 from the field and 4-for-8 from the foul line. But he remained an effective player with seven rebounds and seven assists, and he was very active on defense.
With 7:12 remaining Kent State guard Kellon Thomas drew an and-one to cut the Golden Flashes’ deficit to 53-50. But Thomas could not hit the free throw, and Khaliq Spicer missed the putback as Loyola dodged a bullet.
On the other end of the floor, Loyola junior forward Montel James had his own chance at a 3-point play. He converted the free throw, and the Ramblers capitalized with a five-point swing. James had his best game since the season opener, posting 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting along with eight rebounds.
The Golden Flashes were still within six points entering the final minute, but Loyola junior guard Jeff White drilled a right-wing 3-pointer to effectively put the game away. White finished with 13 points off the bench. Eight of them were in the game’s final 3:01.
Loyola returns home Wednesday to face Tulane (4-1).