CARBONDALE, Ill. -
Armon Fletcher’s three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining lifted Southern Illinois (16-15, 9-9 MVC) to a 72-70 victory over visiting Loyola University Chicago tonight at SIU Arena in the regular-season finale for both clubs. The Ramblers slip to 18-13 overall, and 8-10 in the Missouri Valley Conference, with the loss.
Coach Moser's Thoughts
“Give SIU credit. They were 8 of 14 from three and shot it really well. We just couldn’t get that key stop.”
How It Happened
Loyola got off to a rough start as Thik Bol swatted four Rambler shots in the first four-plus minutes as the Salukis raced out to an 11-2 lead. Southern Illinois expanded that lead to 16-4 before Loyola used a 16-6 spurt of its own, capped by a three-pointer from Aundre Jackson, to close the gap to 22-20.
After the Salukis built the lead back up to eight (32-24), the Ramblers stormed right back, scoring seven straight points on a three from Milton Doyle, and baskets by Clayton Custer and Jackson, to get within a point, at 32-31. A bucket by Mike Rodriguez before the half came to a close sent SIU into the break on top, 34-31.
Loyola seized its first lead of the night when Custer intercepted a pass and raced in for a layup and a 38-37 Rambler advantage early in the second period. From there, it was a back-and-forth battle that saw neither team lead by more than four points and featured six ties the remainder of the way.
Back-to-back jumpers by Custer and Jackson erased a one-point deficit and gave the Ramblers a 64-61 advantage, matching their largest of the game, with 6:27 remaining. Sean O’Brien’s basket punctuated a brief 6-2 SIU spurt that gave the hosts a 67-66 edge, but Doyle’s jumper in the paint with 1:27 left put Loyola back on top, 68-67.
With the shot clock winding down, Armon Fletcher’s three-point attempt came up short, missing everything, but fell right into the waiting hands of O’Brien who laid it in for another SIU lead. Two clutch free throws by Custer at the other end put Loyola back on top, 70-69, but Fletcher’s three with 17 seconds left provided the winning margin. The Ramblers had one last possession, but Custer’s baseline jumper rimmed out as Loyola suffered its sixth conference road loss by four points or less.
The Ramblers shot 54.5 percent (18-for-33) from the field in the second half, while limiting Drake to 37.5 percent (12-for-32) from the field and just 3 of 13 (.231) from three-point territory. Richardson and Doyle came up especially big in the second half, combining for 25 of Loyola's 47 points.
A Look At The Numbers
- Custer scored 21 points, one shy of his season high, hitting 7 of 10 shots from the field, and all three of his attempts from three-point range.
- Jackson added 18 points, 12 of which came in the first half.
- Doyle pitched in 13 points, four boards and four assists, extending his streak of consecutive games with 10 or more points to 32.
- Donte Ingram contributed 11 points to round out Loyola’s double-digit scorers.
- O’Brien led SIU with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Loyola will be the No. 5 seed and will turn right around to again face Southern Illinois, the No. 4 seed, in the quarterfinal round of the MVC Championship at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 3 in St. Louis.