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Hot-shooting Loyola tops Salukis, 79-65

  • Salukis' Tyler Smithpeters drives up the court past a Loyola player Wednesday in SIU's road loss to the Ramblers.

    Salukis' Tyler Smithpeters drives up the court past a Loyola player Wednesday in SIU's road loss to the Ramblers.
    Courtesy of SIU Athletics

By Tom Weber
updated: 1/20/2018 2:53 PM

CHICAGO -- Loyola shot 56 percent from the field, never trailed, and led by double digits the entire second half in a 79-65 win over Southern Illinois on Wednesday night at Gentile Arena.

The Ramblers (15-4, 5-2) won their fourth-straight game and moved into a three-way tie for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings with Missouri State and Drake. They were led by Donte Ingram's 25 points and Cameron Krutwig's 18-point, nine-rebound effort.

The Salukis (11-9, 3-4), who lost their third-straight road game, were led by Sean Lloyd's team-high 21 points. All but five of his points came in the second half, but it wasn't enough to offset a night in which SIU made just 2-of-13 from 3-point range and turned the ball over 20 times.

Loyola started and ended the first half with big runs. Seven minutes into the game, the Ramblers were already up, 19-6.

Southern responded with a 12-0 run, using an active defense to force five Ramblers' turnovers. Ben Richardson stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer for the Ramblers, and the game shifted from run-and-gun to half-court trench warfare.

Loyola had the advantage with either style, thanks to the burly Krutwig, a 6-foot-8 freshman. He displayed a soft touch around the rim and impressive passing ability in half-court sets.

"I was surprised that he dominated our bigs like he did," said SIU head coach Barry Hinson. "I'm disappointed in how our bigs competed tonight. I think it's really hard for a freshman to just dominate two juniors like that."

The Ramblers scored the final four points of the first half to take a 35-23 lead, including a breakaway layup by Clayton Custer that barely beat the buzzer.

"I think we can play fast and I think we can play slow," said Loyola head coach Porter Moser. "We had to slow it down (in a win) against Florida. I think we have some weapons to run. I think we have some depth to run, but I think we can also play a slower, grind-it-out game."

Southern tried to make a run at the lead in the second half, twice cutting the deficit to 10 points.

Loyola had an answer both times, as Ingram buried one of his five 3-pointers, and Krutwig powered his way to the hoop for a layup.

"It was all about defense tonight," Hinson said. "We just couldn't guard them. We gave up 11 layups in the first half."

Lloyd tried to take the team on his shoulders down the stretch, attacking the rim and finishing downhill a half-dozen times.

"Sean Lloyd is one of the most physical, hard-playing guards that I've come across in this league," Moser said. "I love that kid. He is such a hard-playing competitor. He's chiseled out of granite. He's a heckuva player."

The Salukis return home Sunday afternoon to start a two-game homestand with Northern Iowa and Indiana State.

"I'm a little shocked," Hinson said of tonight's outcome. "I'm a little disappointed. I didn't see this coming. I saw a really close game, really big fight and battle. I thought we had great practice and preparation."

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