Loyola offense sparks 75-62 win at Missouri State

Photo: Loyola Athletics

Senior guard Devon Turk scored 20 points Sunday as Loyola’s offense came alive in the second half of a 75-62 win against Missouri State at JQH Arena.

Turk, Loyola’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made, shot 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, including three in the second period. He dominated after halftime along with senior forward Montel James, who scored 11 of his 14 points in the 16:08. James also grabbed fifth double-double of the season.

Loyola(14-14, 7-9 MVC) started strong and raced to an 11-2 lead after four minutes. Missouri State rallied to take a 27-21 lead late in the half. A late flurry by the Ramblers gave them a 32-31 lead at halftime.

After Missouri State (11-17, 7-9) scored the first five points of the second half, sophomore guard Ben Richardson and Turk drained consecutive 3-pointers to bring Loyola’s offense back.

With 8:48 remaining, Turk cashed in another long ball to begin a 13-1 run. The spurt gave Loyola its largest lead of the game at 66-50.

The victory has major implications for both teams regarding the conference tournament. Loyola and Missouri State are now part of a three-way tie with Indiana State for sixth place in the conference. Whichever team gets the No. 6 seed also gets a bye to the conference tournament quarterfinals, while the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds join the play-in round.

All three teams split the regular season series with one another, which means the tiebreaker between any of them would be determined by RPI. Indiana State easily has the best RPI ranking of the three while Loyola took a slight lead over Missouri State after Sunday’s win.

Loyola finishes the season as heavy underdogs Wednesday against Wichita State but then travels to last-place Drake in the season finale.

Missouri State hosts Drake but then travels to Southern Illinois, and Indiana State plays at Northern Iowa before finishing the season at home against Bradley.

KenPom currently projects all three teams to go 1-1 in the final week of the season, which would keep them tied at 8-10 overall. In that scenario, Indiana State would get the No. 6 seed, Loyola would likely get the No. 7 seed and Missouri State would likely get the No. 8 seed.

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