Dec. 8, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Ben Averkamp scored a game-high 25 points and Loyola University Chicago (6-3) threw a scare into #19/17 Michigan State (8-2) but the host Spartans rallied from a halftime deficit to earn a 73-61 victory this afternoon at Breslin Center. The Ramblers trailed 43-41 in the second half, but three straight three-pointers by Gary Harris pushed the Michigan State lead to 52-41 and proved to be the turning point in the game.
"I am happy with the effort, but disappointed with the result," Loyola head coach Porter Moser said. "We proved that we can play on this stage, but we have to learn how to win on this stage. The three straight threes by Harris were a dagger."
Michigan State staked claim to a 22-12 lead with 7:57 left in the first half, but Christian Thomas' dunk ignited an 18-3 Loyola run over the next 5:27 that gave the Ramblers a 30-25 lead late in the period. Helping to key that spurt was three three-pointers, including back-to-back ones by Devon Turk, and another from Cully Payne.
That surge and some solid long-range shooting (5 for 9) helped the Ramblers take a 32-30 lead into the locker room at the half and gave the Rambler faithful hope for the program's first win over a ranked opponent since 2009.
The teams traded leads early in the second half, and a three by Averkamp, one of his four triples on the afternoon, put Loyola on top, 36-35. However, a bucket by Harris just seven seconds later gave the Spartans the lead for good and the rookie's barrage of threes nearly four minutes later gave Michigan State control of the game.
Loyola proved it had plenty of fight left in it, however, and a basket by Jeff White and consecutive three-pointers from Averkamp closed the gap to three points, but that was as close as the Ramblers would get the remainder of the way.
Known as one of the better rebounding teams in the nation, Michigan State owned just a two-board edge for the game (33-31), and the Ramblers held a 13-8 advantage on the offensive glass. After holding the Spartans to 41 percent (9 for 22) shooting in the first half, Loyola saw MSU knock down 13 of 23 (57 percent) of its attempts, including 5 of 7 from long distance, in the second half.
Averkamp led Loyola with 25 points and eight rebounds, while Turk came off the bench to produce double-digit points (10) for the second straight outing. Payne chipped in nine points and seven assists, while committing just one turnover.
"Rick Majerus should be proud looking down," Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. "Coach Moser did an incredible job and I told the guys that this team would be physical and they will run their stuff well. Drop St. Louis in with different colors and different names and that's what it was."
Harris scored a team-high 20 points to lead Michigan State.
Loyola is off until next Saturday (Dec. 15) when it hosts Mississippi State in the first meeting between the schools since the famous Game of Change on March 15, 1963.