Jan. 23, 2013
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Christian Thomas scored a career-best 21 points and Loyola University Chicago (12-7, 2-4 Horizon) overcame a 13-point, second-half deficit to rally for a 67-55 victory over host Cleveland State (10-11, 2-5 Horizon) tonight at the Wolstein Center. The Ramblers scored the final 16 points of the game to turn a 55-51 deficit into their seventh win of the year away from home.
"I'm really happy with how we finished the game," Loyola head coach Porter Moser said. "We really executed in the last five minutes. Three of our four League losses have basically come at the buzzer and we just didn't finish off those games. This is as good of a job of finishing as we've done. We moved the ball well against a good, physical team."
The Ramblers got off to a sluggish start and fell behind 19-8 early before regrouping. A three-pointer by Devon Turk began the Ramblers' half-closing 17-6 run that sent the teams into the locker room tied at 25 at the break. Loyola held Cleveland State without a basket for the final 4:33 of the period and to only four points over the final 10:58.
After Thomas opened the second-half scoring with a thunderous dunk, Cleveland State rattled off six unanswered points as part of a 21-6 run that gave the Vikings a 46-33 lead, their largest of the night, with 13:39 remaining.
Thomas completed a three-point play to spark a 15-2 run that was punctuated by Ben Averkamp's dunk with 6:44 that evened the score at 48. Bryn Forbes drained a three to put the Vikings back on top by three, but Cully Payne answered with a cultch triple of his own to draw the Ramblers even again. However, back-to-back hoops by Charlie Lee and Marlin Mason gave Cleveland State a 55-51 advantage with 4:58 remaining.
Refusing to be rattled, another three-pointer from Turk sparked Loyola's 16-0 run to finish the game as Averkamp tallied six of his 18 points during that closing stretch.
Thomas, who tallied a career-best 21 points, added five rebounds, and has now scored in double figures in eight of the last 10 contests. Averkamp finished with 18 points and Turk added 13 points for the Ramblers, who also got eight points from Payne, five points, six assists, and six boards from Jordan Hicks, and nine boards and five assists from Joe Crisman.
Loyola dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Vikings, 33-21.
Cleveland State, which was limited to 39 percent (21 for 53) shooting from the field, was led by Forbes' 22 points.
Loyola finally returns home this weekend when it will host 2012 Horizon League champion Detroit on Saturday (Jan. 26) at 3 p.m.