Loyola clinches No. 6 seed with overtime win at Drake

Loyola survived 80-75 in overtime Saturday at Drake after blowing a 9-point lead in the second half. With the win, the Ramblers clinched the No. 6 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament next week.

“We didn’t hide the fact that it was a big game,” coach Porter Moser said. “Sometimes you tiptoe around with the guys. No, we said right out of the gate this is for the 6 seed. Everybody picked us for last. This is for 6th. Obviously we’re in it to win a championship, but you’ve got to take steps. This was a great step for us.”

The Ramblers were without injured leading scorer Milton Doyle for the 11th straight game, and sharpshooter Devon Turk was held scoreless.

Senior forward Christian Thomas and junior guard Earl Peterson stepped up, scoring 20 points apiece, to lead Loyola to a tough road win.

“So many guys stepped up,” Moser said.

Photo: Loyola Athletics
Photo: Loyola Athletics

Thomas ranks No. 22 in Loyola history with 1,263 career points, and he should pass Gerald Hayward for No. 21 when the Ramblers host Missouri State this weekend.

Thomas’ scoring had been down since Doyle was sidelined with his injury, but that has come back the last two games. He scored 14 points last Saturday against Illinois State.

“[Thomas] really got us going,” Moser said. “He’s been struggling with his shot so much, and to knock down some shots early was just huge for him.”

Loyola erased a 9-point deficit in the first half but then lost control of its own 9-point advantage in the second. The Ramblers trailed 65-62 in the final four minutes, but freshman Ben Richardson knocked down a key 3-pointer to tie the game.

Loyola had a shot to win on the final possession of regulation, but Peterson missed a triple, leading to overtime.

The Ramblers outscored the Bulldogs 13-8 in the extra period.

“Just mentally tough to start overtime on the road when you just had a chance to win it,” Moser said. “Just a defining game for us. One of those must-wins on the road, and you got it done.”

After Saturday’s game against Missouri State, the Ramblers head to St. Louis for the conference tournament, where they will face either Illinois State or Indiana State in the quarterfinals depending on other Saturday results.

Loyola was swept by both Illinois State and Indiana State in the regular season. However, the losses to Illinois State were by an average of 5 points while the losses to Indiana State were by an average of 12.5 points.

Author: Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder of The Catch and Shoot. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He has had work featured on SI.com, College Insider, The Comeback/Awful Announcing, and 247Sports.

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