Loyola Chicago (9-20, 4-13 MVC) dropped to last place in the Missouri Valley Conference Tuesday with a 72-56 loss at Missouri State (19-10, 9-8). The Ramblers, who finish the season Saturday at home against Evansville, exit the regular season with no true road wins. They have also lost five games in a row entering the regular season finale.
Loyola kept pace with Missouri State early. The Ramblers tied the score at 16 on sophomore Matt O’Leary’s 3-pointer with 11:27 until halftime.
The Bears then rattled off a 7-0 spurt and the Ramblers never fully recovered.
Missouri State’s lead grew to 14 points on freshman Austin Ruder’s trey just before the halftime buzzer.
Loyola opened the second half on a 9-2 run to cut its deficit to seven points. But the Ramblers got no closer. Missouri State responded with a second-chance bucket and a 3-pointer to push the lead back to double digits.
Junior forward Christian Kirk led Missouri State with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting off the bench.
He received help from seniors Jarmar Gulley and Keith Pickens. Gulley posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and he also dished out five assists. Pickens finished with 14 points.
Senior Tony Nixon led Loyola with a season-high 15 points off the bench. Nixon drained five 3-pointers.
Junior Joe Crisman posted 14 points, marking his fourth double-double outing of the year.
Loyola hosts Evansville at 3 p.m. CT Saturday, when it will honor Nixon and its two seniors, Bill Clark and Derrick Boone.