Loyola picked up its second quality road win of the season Saturday, upsetting Southern Illinois, 73-59, at SIU Arena.
The Ramblers shot 54.3 percent from the field with forward Montel James’ 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting leading the way. James also grabbed 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season.
The Ramblers (11-13, 4-8 MVC) jumped out to an early lead behind some scorching shooting. Loyola led 20-13 midway through the second half, although Southern Illinois (18-7, 7-5) closed within 30-26 at halftime.
Loyola’s defense clamped down on the Salukis early in the second half. After a pair of Southern Illinois buckets in the opening minutes, the Salukis went scoreless for nearly seven minutes. The Ramblers opened up a 46-33 lead in that time and eventually led by 15 points with 7:47 remaining.
Southern Illinois made a late push to get within 10 points of Loyola, but Ramblers guard Earl Peterson hit a 3-pointer to give his team a 61-48 lead entering the final four minutes.
Peterson finished with 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting for his best offensive performance since Jan. 9, when he scored 18 points against Missouri State.
Senior guard Devon Turk and sophomore wing Donte Ingram also scored in double figures with 14 points each while junior guard Milton Doyle added 11.
After starting 0-5 in the Missouri Valley, Loyola is 4-3 since coach Porter Moser shook up the starting in mid-January. The Ramblers’ improved stretch began with an upset victory at Northern Iowa, which ranks No. 112 in KenPom.
With Saturday’s win, Loyola is in good shape to avoid a last-place finish. The Ramblers lead last-place Drake by three games. However, they sit two games behind Missouri State and Northern Iowa, which are tied for the coveted No. 6 seed and a bye to the MVC Tournament quarterfinals.