Loyola (6-2) continued its hot start to the season Saturday with a 58-46 victory against Jackson State (1-8). The Ramblers shot 51.2% from the field and led for all but a few minutes of the contest.
“I’m proud of the guys,” coach Porter Moser said. “Our guys were on complete lockdown with finals. For them to focus in and play a team with tremendous energy, I was real proud of our guys that we played with some energy.
13 minutes into the game, the Ramblers held a slim lead at 19-18. Then a 7-0 run gave them some separation.
Freshman Donte Ingram converted a layup off a pass from fellow rookie Ben Richardson. Ingram fed senior forward Christian Thomas on the next possession, and then junior guard Earl Peterson drilled a 3-pointer.
Peterson finished with a game-high 21 points, which was also the junior college transfer’s career-high.
“It was really big,” Peterson said. “Tonight, to see my shots going in, it felt really good. I stepped up, came off the bench and was productive on both ends of the floor.”
Loyola led by eight points late in the second half, but Jackson State scored five answered in the final 2:21. The Ramblers clung to a 30-27 advantage at halftime.
Jackson State was still hanging around early in the second half, down 36-33. Then the Tigers’ offense stalled, and the Ramblers broke open a double-digit lead.
A pair of jumpers by junior forward Montel James bookended an 11-0 run to effectively put the game away with fewer than eight minutes left. A few minutes later, Peterson scored seven straight points to bump Loyola’s lead to 15 points, the team’s largest of the game.
“I’ve been saying in practice to the guys that Earl Peterson’s been playing with a lot of energy,” Moser said. “It’s a great lesson for everybody. This is how he’s been practicing, and it’s paying off.”
While Peterson led Loyola, Thomas added 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting. Leading scorer Milton Doyle was held to eight points on 4-for-4 shooting, but he contributed four rebounds and five assists as well.
“It just shows you how much of a team guy Milton Doyle is,” Moser said of his sophomore star. “He’s one of the most talkative, happy guys in the locker room right now. I think he’s grown up so much. He’s all about the team.”
Loyola hosts Abilene Christian (4-4) on Wednesday.