GENTILE ARENA --- The Loyola Ramblers (6-18, 1-13) did not give cross town rival UIC Flames (7-17, 3-11) an inch of breathing room and picked up the elusive Horizon League win in a 78-69 knockout. Walt Gibler won the tip for the Ramblers and Loyola controlled the tempo for the duration of the game, not allowing a single lead change. The Flames chipped the lead late, but for the first time all season, the Ramblers played with confidence and a dominant league win was visible
Ben Averkamp finished with a team high 17 points on 5-10 shooting and also grabbed 7 rebounds. Five players finished in double figures for Loyola (Gibler 11, Hicks 15, Brito 11, Kadima 10, and Averkamp 17) to round out the well balanced and new found offensive attack. It wouldn't surprise me if someone misinterpreted the half time score for the final tally. Loyola hasn't scored more than 63 points all year and has only eclipsed the 60 point mark four times thus far. Head coach Porter Moser took delight in the quality ball movement and scoring production, "I thought we moved the ball really well. We had 19 assists and that came off a lot of unselfishness. "
Averkamp, coming off a concussion, did not start but found his way into the box score and made an astounding impact in this game. When asked about what Ben means to the team Porter stated, "Your [Averkamp] presence alone uplifts everybody." It's easy to see how defense swarms towards the Second Team All-Horizon Leaguer when he's in the game. Ben and Walt Gibler have the powerful ability of freeing up teammates and creating driving lanes. This is the first time since December 22, 2010 that five Ramblers have scored double figures.
Gary Talton and Daniel Barnes led the way for UIC once again scoring 18 and 15 points respectively. In the last meeting between the Flames and Ramblers, Barnes torched Loyola with 6 three pointers. Thankfully, he was bit more quiet today shooting only 3-8 from beyond the arc. Limiting Talton and Barnes proved to be the key to victory for Loyola and freshman walk-on London Dokubo had something to do with it.
"He's [London Dokubo] brought tremendous defensive intensity. We wanted to start with high energy. Denzel [Brito] did better seeing the flow off the game coming off the bench," Moser said. London does bring that spark to the team and he ignited the offense out of the gate with a quick three pointer.
Loyola had a season high 8 three point field goals and shot 52% overall for the game. Another note is the stellar play from Jordan Hicks. Gleaming with a big smile after the game Hicks finished with 15 points and 8 rebounds in his best game of the year. The senior forward has been tirelessly to find his groove and get back to normal. "Jordan had his best week of practice and hes looking confident," Moser said. Finishing out a poor team season strong is a great way for Jordan Hicks to sign off on his illustrious Rambler career.
With a Horizon League win in hand, don't expect Loyola to make any kind of run late - just be grateful the Ramblers didn't finish the year without a conference win. One is good enough for this team.
Filed under: Game Summary