Loyola couldn't find a rhythm offensively in the first half and it cost the Ramblers a chance at a home Horizon League victory as they fell 66-57 to Milwaukee at the Gentile Center on Thursday night. Loyola shot 17-51 from the field and committed 15 turnovers on the way to loss which drops Jim Whitesell's club to 4-10 in conference.
The shooting woes were widespread. Ben Averkamp was 3-10 for 10 points, Geoff McCammon shot 1-9 with 6 points and Terrance Hill scored 15 points on 5-12 shooting. The one bright spot for the Ramblers was Andy Polka. The senior forward shot 5-10 from the field, scoring 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
"A lot of times we were our own worst enemy on the offensive end," Whitesell said.
The first half was the biggest problem. The Ramblers scored 20 points in 31 first half possessions. They turned the ball over 8 times and had 4 assists at the break. That left Loyola in a 32-20 hole.
"We need to get quality shots and I think what happens with us when things don't go our way is that we start to force things," Whitesell said. "That's when you have to get even better offensively. You almost have to get quality shots."
It seems that one of the problems for the Ramblers on offense in league play has been that it's impossible for Whitesell to put five scorers on the court at once. At one point this season balance was the buzz word around the Loyola program. But injuries to Jordan Hicks
and Walt Gibler
- who missed the game after a concussion in practice - have sapped this team of some of its offensive firepower.
All of Whitesell's options at point guard, unless he plays Hill there, are a liability in conference play. Courtney Stanley came off the bench on Thursday and scored 5 points and had 3 assists, but he also turned the ball over 5 times. Gabe Kindred started for the Ramblers, but he was 0-2 from the field and was blanked. A third option, Denzel Brito, was 1-3 from the field and scored 5 points with 1 assist in 10 minutes.
The point guards though weren't the whole problem with turnovers. Besides Stanley, Polka and Hill each committed 3 and McCammon had 2. The Panthers then turned those miscues into 22 points.
There are going to be nights like this, where a team shoots 3-14 from the field, but you hope they're few and far between. Unfortunately for Loyola there have been a few too many this season. In terms of points per possessions this was the Ramblers' fourth worst performance this season and all four have come in Horizon League play.