GENTILE ARENA — The Loyola Ramblers concluded the 2011-12 season with a loss to the Milwaukee Panthers 78-69 at the Gentile Arena today. The loss caps off a 7-22 overall record for the Ramblers which included only one Horizon League win. Milwaukee, on the other hand, has a bright road ahead finishing 19-12 overall and will play host to UIC this Tuesday as the Horizon League tournament commences.
One thing clear is that Tony Meier will be a huge impact player for Milwaukee in the tourney coming off a game high 26 point performance over Loyola. Meier was blazing early and together with teammate Paris Gulley the two shot a collective 7-8 from three point land. When asked about his outstanding night shooting Tony Meier responded, “It kind of presented itself as the game went on. When you’re hitting shots it [success from 3 point line] kind of presents itself.” Gulley ended with 19 points and six boards. The two picked up the bulk of the offense for the Panthers and were the keys to Milwaukee’s offensive success.
Following suit with the style of play Loyola has employed this year, the Ramblers had no intention of backing down and fought for the duration of the game which saw three lead changes. Ben Averkamp had a team high 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting and liked the way his team reacted to the fiery Panther shooting. “When they’re shooting the ball that well it’s tough. [On what got Loyola back in the game] It’s grinding and getting stops they had 26 points at 9:30 mark then 32 at halftime,” Averkamp said.
“We played an opponent that grinds and is a lot like their coach,” Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter said. Porter Moser and Rob Jeter had a little exchange of words after a a couple scruffels late in the game. It was nothing too dirty on either side and no harm was intended by either coach. Jeter saw no foul in the encounter, “Both teams know each other well and I don’t see anything else other then being competitive. There is no bad blood between the programs or players,” Jeter clarified. Ultimately, Tony Meier was charged with technical and Loyola was given a team technical. Earlier in the half, Ben Averkamp was given a flagrant foul for use of his elbow down low.
Senior Walt Gibler played his final game here in Rogers Park and with his two senior teammates Adam Cooper and John Benkoske together they conclude their tenures as Ramblers. While Walt did not have an emerging game today (8 points in 19 minutes) he has certainty left his mark in the Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball record books. “He should have no regrets. He gave his all to Loyola … 1,000 point scorer and 500 rebounds, high character guy. Hes got so much going for him.” These were the words his head coach Porter Moser had to say about him.
The moment that stood out for the Ramblers was at 4:18 mark in the second half when Denzel Brito drilled a corner three ball and then Walt Gibler came down the court to hit a layup underneath. The ups and downs of the game had hit Porter Moser hard. “Today I felt like one of those hard driving jockeys to get more out of their horse. We just grinded to a point , but you got to credit Milwaukee,” Moser explained. The Ramblers never found the push to take the lead when the Panthers went cold on successive drives.
The story of the year continued tonight, where Loyola is able to contend, get burried into a gaping whole, fight resiliently to get back, but ultimately fall short.
There still remains one more life in this team as they will travel to Detroit on Tuesday for a first game in the Horizon League tournament. Porter says the guys are looking forward to the tournament because the records are meaningless and everyone starts anew. He also stated that Ben yelled in the locker room, ” ‘It’s a clean slate.’ ” You have to admire the optimism this team holds.
VIDEO: Senior Day Ceremony