The Loyola Ramblers (5-19, 1-13 Horizon) won its first Horizon League game in nearly a year this Saturday and ended an 11-game overall losing streak when it beat UIC Flames (7-17, 3-11) 78-69 at the Gentile Arena. The Ramblers scored a season-high 78 points and have a new season-best 8 three-point field goals in 14 attempts (57 percent).
This game was nothing like the last meeting of UIC and Loyola, January 14th where the Flames won 58-51. UIC was looking to secure the regular season sweep in its first visit to the newly renovated Gentile Arena.
The Ramblers took full use of the new Gentile Arena. There was an “old school” memorabilia sale from past sports teams, a putting area where fans could see if they could get a hole-in-one during half time, new concession stands, and free balloon hats & animals all to raise the fan’s spirits. This spirit of the Ramblers’ fans makes the team a tough contender at home. The Flames’ have not won on the road against the Ramblers since February 27, 2009.
Rambler’s Coach Porter Moser put this new win as positive start for the rest of the season.
“You’ll be remembered by how you finish” Moser said
Loyola controlled the game from the opening tip with basket by Walt Gibler and ensuing three-pointer by London Dokubo gave the Ramblers the lead they would maintain until the end. UIC started slow and did not score until Daniel Barnes put up UIC’s first field goal of the game at the 17:01 mark of the half. Even then the momentum stayed with Loyola, less than a 30 seconds later, Denzel Brito scored a three-pointer to spark a 15-4 Loyola run that stretched the lead to 20-6.
UIC would not get closer than nine points the remainder of the period and the Ramblers out scored the Flames 39-26. Overall, the numbers tell it all: Loyola was shooting a 57.1% average in field goals to UIC’s 45.5%.
Although a few fans joked that Loyola won due the teams pink socks the team wore in support of “Play for Kay”, Coach Moser felt some of its strength came from the return Junior Ben Averkamp. When talking about Averkamp
, Coach Moser said “It just uplifts the team his presence”
Averkamp leads the Ramblers across the board in points, rebounds, assists and blocks. He was sidelined last week due to concussion symptoms after a collision at Wright State.
“When I got cleared late Thursday night, it was a good day.” Averkamp said.
Saturday was also a good day for Averkamp. Although coach Moser tried to start him off slow, Averkamp came off the bench to play 31 minutes and scored 17 points.
Averkamp wasn’t the only player celebrating while on the court. Loyola’s Walt Gibler became the 18th player in school history to reach 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his career.
But it was more than just these two men who won the game for Loyola.
Jordan Hicks continued his record for quality play, recording 15 points, two assists and a pair of steals. Loyola had four other players in double digits: Ben Averkamp (17), Walt Gibler(11), Chim Kadima (10); Denzel Brito (11). This has not happened since December 22, 2010, in a victory at Texas-Pan American.
“This was the first time where Everybody was truly healthy…” Coach Moser said
All was not lost for UIC however. Gary Talton had 18 points and Daniel Barnes had 15 to lead UIC. Center Darrin Williams had three of the Flames’ seven blocked shots. UIC contines its away game stretch against Valparaiso Tuesday. That same day Loyola takes on Butler.
To see the full after game interviews take a look here: