Despite a late shooting barrage Monday from Oral Roberts and several ill-advised fouls, Loyola survived 86-78 to advance to the CBI semifinals.
The Ramblers (21-13, 8-10 MVC) led by as many as 17 points early in the second. The Golden Eagles (19-15, 10-6 Summit) remained within striking distance but still trailed by double digits with 1:17 remaining.
Sophomore guard Bobby Word drained two straight 3-pointers with a Loyola free throw in between to cut Oral Roberts’ deficit to 77-71 with 43 seconds to go.
After Loyola sophomore Milton Doyle split two free throws, junior guard Jeff White fouled Oral Roberts guard Aaron Young on a triple. Young made all three free throws, trimming Loyola’s lead to 78-74.
The team’s then traded free throws. Oral Roberts intentionally fouled, and then Doyle committed a silly reach-in foul in the backcourt.
After two more free throws by Loyola junior Earl Peterson, freshman Ben Richardson fouled another 3-pointer shooter. This time it was Word, who made two of the foul shots.
Leading 84-76, the Ramblers got a final defensive stop to escape with the victory.
Peterson led Loyola with 19 points and 5 assists, and he made all 11 of his free throws.
Three other Ramblers reached double figures. Junior forward Montel James recorded 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting while senior forward Christian Thomas had 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
Thomas also passed Loyola legend John Egan on Loyola’s all-time scoring list, moving to No. 18 with 1,324 career points.
Doyle finished with 14 points and 4 assists.
Young led Oral Roberts with 26 points while Word had 22. 18 of Word’s points came in the second half.
Loyola moves on to face Seattle (18-15, 7-7 WAC) in the CBI semifinals Wednesday. The other semifinal is between Vermont and Louisiana-Monroe.
Seattle reached this point by defeating Colorado on Monday following a first round win against Pepperdine. The Redhawks are just 2-9 on the road this season.
With 21 victories, the Ramblers have equalled their win total of the 2006-07 season. With a win against Seattle, Loyola would have its victories since the 1984-85 season, when the Ramblers advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.