Southern Illinois Nips Loyola, 71-67
Jan. 8, 2014
CHICAGO - Christian Thomas posted team-highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds but Southern Illinois scored the final six points of the game to claim a 71-67 win over Loyola tonight at Gentile Arena. The Ramblers drop to 6-9 (1-2 Missouri Valley) while the Salukis improve to 5-11 (1-2)
"Our turnovers were the storyline of the game," said head coach Porter Moser. "We turned it over 17 times for 18 points and that was the game. We had a good, spirited week of practice but you cannot turn it over like that and win close games."
The first half was filled with runs and, after spotting SIU the first five points of the game, Loyola ripped off eight straight points to take the early lead. The teams were tied four different times to get to 17-17 before the Salukis turned two Loyola turnovers into five quick points as part of a 7-0 spurt that gave the visitors a 24-17 advantage with just over eight minutes left. Loyola responded quickly, rattling off the next 10 points to regain the lead and the Ramblers were able to bump the lead to five (33-28) on a Jeff White free throw. However, Southern Illinois closed the half strong, scoring eight of the final 10 points to take a narrow, 36-35 lead into intermission.
Southern Illinois was able to play from in front through the first 10 minutes of the second half as Loyola was unable to get over the hump. The Ramblers finally were able to move back in front (52-51) on a Nick Osborne basket and edged out to a 60-57 advantage on a Devon Turk three-pointer. Erratic free throw shooting by both teams helped keep the game close and a pair of Thomas free throws gave Loyola a 67-65 lead with 1:13 left.
However, Desmar Jackson found Jalen Pendleton for a basket to tie the game and, after a turnover, the same two hooked up again to put the Salukis in front, 69-67, with :05.9 left. After three timeouts and a deflected inbounds pass, Milton Doyle drove to the basket and was fouled :01.1 on the clock. Doyle missed the first free throw and a lane violation prevented a chance at an offensive rebound. Jackson then hit two free throws to ice the game.
Thomas was terrific, hitting his final five shots en route to his season-high 21 points. He was joined in double figures by Doyle (17 points) and Turk (15 points, 5-9 3FGs). Jackson led Southern Illinois with 31 points and six assists.
Loyola returns to action on Saturday night when it travels to Bloomington, Ill. to battle Illinois State. Tip from Redbird Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.