Dec. 29, 2012
ROSEMONT, Ill. - Cully Payne scored a season-high 24 points and added four rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals, to help Loyola University Chicago (9-3) rally from a nine-point deficit and earn a hard-fought 69-61 victory over DePaul (9-4) at Allstate Arena this afternoon. The win snaps the Ramblers' 11-game losing skid versus their city rival and gives them their first victory in the series since 1989.
"I'm really happy for our fans because I know this game means a lot to them," Loyola head coach Porter Moser said. "I'm also very proud of our guys for how tough they were today. This is two games in a row that we have been down by nine or more points and come back to win. That shows a lot about the character of this team. Our guys played hard and played the game the right way."
DePaul reeled off seven unanswered points midway through the opening period to open up a 21-12 lead before Ben Averkamp's only hoop of the half jump-started a 14-5 Loyola run that brought the Ramblers even at 26. Both teams converted over 50 percent of their shots from the field in the opening 20 minutes and Loyola handled DePaul's heralded press well and actually forced the Demons into more turnovers (9-8).
Payne's first of three three-pointers on the day gave the Ramblers a 38-37 lead, their first of the game, just minutes into the second half. Clinging to a 47-46 lead with 9:30 left to play, Loyola rattled off seven consecutive points, courtesy of baskets by Averkamp and Christian Thomas, which were sandwiched around another three from Payne. After a bucket by DePaul's Worrel Clahar, Loyola punctuated its game-changing 12-1 run with a hoop from Averkamp and a triple from Jordan Hicks to stretch its advantage to 59-47.
The Blue Demons refused to go away and charged back with six straight points to cut the Ramblers' lead in half, but Payne answered with a layup and his three-pointer with 1:12 remaining put Loyola back ahead by double digits (66-55).
Payne closed out the game by scoring nine of Loyola's final 10 points en route to his game-high 24 points, which is one shy of his career high set when he was still playing at the University of Iowa in 2010 against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.
Payne received support from Thomas, who recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, Devon Turk (10 points), Averkamp (9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals), and Hicks (8 points, 5 rebounds).
Loyola limited DePaul's leading scorer, Cleveland Melvin who entered the game averaging 17.9 points per gamer, to seven points on 2 of 8 shooting. Brandon Young tallied 18 points to lead the Blue Demons.
Loyola opens Horizon League play when it travels to defending regular-season champion Valparaiso on Wednesday (Jan. 2) at 7:05 p.m.