Nov. 26, 2011
CHICAGO - Denzel Brito recorded 11 points and 10 assists for his first career double-double to help Loyola University Chicago (1-4) hold off a second-half rally and earn a 64-50 victory over Fordham (1-2) in the first game played in renovated Gentile Arena this afternoon. The win improves the Ramblers' to 61-6 in home openers since 1945. Loyola shot 52 percent from the field and its defense kept the Rams in check to the tune of 28 percent shooting.
"This win feels great and I'm happy for our guys to finally taste victory after having worked so hard," Loyola Head Coach Porter Moser said.
Loyola got off to a quick start, scoring the first eight points of the game then extending that lead to 15-3 on a Ben Averkamp lay-up with 12:19 left in the period. Leading by as many as 13 points in the opening 20 minutes, Loyola saw that edge dwindle to five points (30-25), but sophomore forward Jonathon Gac scored the final four points of the period to send the Ramblers into the locker room with a 34-25 lead, their first halftime advantage of the season.
Fordham applied pressure at the outset of the second half and used defense to help set up its offense. The Rams notched seven unanswered points to begin the period and closed within two points, at 34-32, before a basket by Averkamp helped settle down the Ramblers. Clinging to a three-point lead (36-33), Loyola used a three-pointer from Brito to ignite an 11-4 run, that was punctuated by a three-pointer by Chim Kadima, to build a 47-37 advantage.
The Rams would chip away at the deficit, closing within five (47-42), but Loyola extended its lead to as many as 14 points and its defense tightened, holding Fordham to just one field goal over the final 8:38 of regulation.
"My teammates put me in a position to succeed today," Brito said. "My role is to find guys in the flow of the offense and they did a great job of setting screens and helping me do my job today."
Freshman Joe Crisman, who has scored in double figures in three straight games, tallied a team-high 14 points, hitting 6 of 10 shots from the field, to lead Loyola. Averkamp added 13 points and eight rebounds, and Brito finished with 11 points, four boards and 10 assists. His 10 assists are the most by a Rambler since 2009.
Chris Gaston led Fordham with 19 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks.
Loyola opens Horizon League play on Dec. 1 when it visits Milwaukee.