Loyola Chicago (5-5) defeated Campbell (4-6) on Friday night to start its first winning streak of the 2013-14 season. The Ramblers, who were coming off a win against Chicago-rival UIC last Saturday, erased a six-point deficit in the second half to complete the 80-68 victory.
After a back-and-forth first half that resulted in a 31-30 Campbell lead, the Camels served up the first punch in the second half with four straight three-pointers to open up a 40-34 advantage. A fourth triple put the Camels up 43-38, and a blistering Porter Moser, Loyola’s head coach, called for a timeout.
Loyola had prepared for Campbell’s hot shooting from beyond the arc (as a team, the Camels shoot 36.3%) extensively leading up to Friday.
“Coach got all up in us,” sophomore forward Matt O’Leary said. “He called a timeout, told us to regroup. We’d been working on [three-point defense] all week.”
With a big spurt following the timeout, Loyola took control of the game, gaining an eight-point lead by the 9:11 mark.
The Ramblers’ lead grew to double digits inside of eight minutes, but Campbell fought back within six points on Andrew Ryan’s three-pointer with 2:46 remaining.
The Ramblers shot well from the foul line down the stretch, and Joe Crisman’s home-run inbounds pass to Christian Thomas for an easy, two-handed slam served as the exclamation point with 58 seconds left.
Freshman guard Milton Doyle led the way for Loyola with a career-high 32 points on 9-of-13 shooting, and O’Leary had 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals off the bench.
“[Doyle] looked more comfortable than he has,” Moser said. “I thought he took it when he had, and other times he passed it off. … He’s learning every game.”
Doyle also made his living at the foul line with 12-of-15 shooting.
“I felt like the ref would just keep calling fouls so I tried to keep attacking the rim,” Doyle said.
The Ramblers also received 16 points from Thomas and six points, five rebounds, and three assists from Crisman.
“Crisman made some intangible plays,” Moser said. “He had four defensive rebounds in traffic. Coaches appreciate those.”
For Campbell, sophomore Luke Moyer and and junior Reco McCarter each had 12 points, and junior Darius Leonard had 11.
The Camels struggled to get baskets inside, but their 12-of-22 shooting, or what Moser called a “three-point shooting barrage,” kept them close throughout. With this loss, they are now 2-6 against Division I competition and have lost three straight games.
“I thought we competed, and that was really our biggest point of emphasis over the last couple of days of practice,” Campbell head coach Kevin McGeehan said. “If we could have put two halves together tonight it might have been a different story.”
The Ramblers, who entered the game last in the Missouri Valley Conference in turnover percentage, had only seven turnovers in 62 possessions against the Camels. Limiting giveaways was a point of emphasis in practice throughout the week.
“That was one of the biggest things we’ve been working on,” O’Leary said.
Moser saw this game as a big improvement because the Ramblers remained aggressive with their lead after blowing double-digit leads against Tulane and Tennessee Tech earlier in the season.
“We’ve lost some leads this year, and we’ve talked about how to close off games,” Moser said. “I thought today, we really closed off the game. … Down the stretch, we took care of the ball. We had end-game excellence. We didn’t have any turnovers, we handled the press, we grinded it out. I thought we looked confident.”
On Wednesday night, Loyola will return to action, as it hosts the Northern Illinois Huskies (3-4). Tip is set for 7 p.m. CT.