Feb. 16, 2013
CHICAGO - Christian Thomas posted 23 points and 11 rebounds and Jordan Hicks added 18 points as Loyola University Chicago (14-12, 4-9 Horizon) led from start to finish en route to a 69-60 victory over UIC (15-11, 6-7 Horizon) this afternoon at Gentile Arena. The victory snaps the Ramblers' four-game losing skid and doubles their win total from a season ago (7).
"Our crowd was awesome today and that was the best leadership we've had down the stretch this season," Loyola head coach Porter Moser said. "It's tough to lose guys like Cully (Payne) and Ben (Averkamp), but our guys really rallied around it. Infusing Joe (Crisman) back into the lineup gave us heart, toughness, and leadership."
A tip-in by Hicks kicked off a 21-7 Rambler run which also featured back-to-back three-pointers by Hicks and Nick Osborne, that turned a one-point game into a 30-15 Loyola lead in the first half. After making just 2 of their first 14 shots from the field, the Ramblers closed the period by converting 12 of their next 13 attempts, and also turned the ball over just twice while holding UIC to 36 percent (10 for 28) field goal accuracy.
Loyola would lead by as many as 16 points in the second half, the last time coming on Hicks' jumper with 17:38 remaining, but UIC would use a 23-11 spurt to close with 56-52 on Daniel Barnes' only three-pointer of the game.
But, after a hoop by Thomas and a pair of free throws by Josh Crittle, Loyola scored nine of the next 11 points to open up a 67-56 lead with 31 seconds left to seize complete control of the contest.
Thomas, who has now scored in double figures in 11 straight games, finished with a career-best 23 points and hauled in 11 rebounds for his fifth double double of the year. Hicks added 18 points as he reached double digits for the fourth time in the last six outings, and Devon Turk, who was making his first career start, pitched in 10 points and four boards.
Loyola played the game without the services of two key injured starters - forward Ben Averkamp and Cully Payne, but the Ramblers were recharged by the return of Joe Crisman, who is arguably the team's best defender but had been forced to the sidelines the last five games because of an injury.
Marc Brown led UIC with 13 points.
Loyola, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of its 1963 NCAA Championship team at halftime today, continues the homestand when it hosts League leader Valparaiso Tuesday night (Feb. 19).