Loyola extinguishes UIC flames 80-63

Updated November 20, 2021 7:33 PM CT
Published November 20, 2021 7:17 PM CT

Loyola’s men’s basketball team (4-0) defeated the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) 80:63 in a thrilling game at Gentile Arena on November 20th.

This marked the 58th time Loyola and UIC have met since the 1985-1986 season, with the Flames maintaining the lead in the 31-27 series. However, since 2013 Loyola has been unbeaten against the UIC.

Gentile Arena was tense for the entire 40 minutes of play as the lead changed five times and the scoreboard tied six times during the night.

“It was a brave one,” said Loyola head coach Drew Valentine. “[UIC] came out and put us in some difficult positions we weren’t in yet. I mean, we started the games pretty hot. It was fun to see how the guys fight, fight, claw their way through in the first half. “

The Ramblers fought aggressively in the first half and took almost ten minutes of play to score double-digit points. With less than nine minutes remaining, Loyola averaged 0.57 points per possession, less than half the end-of-game average.

An educated layup and a free throw from graduate Lucas Williamson after a goalkeeper call from the referee brought Loyola closer to the UIC at 23:19, less than six minutes into halftime.

Loyola continued his rally in the final minutes of the first half as senior striker Ryan Schwieger scored six points in a row to put the Ramblers 28:25 ahead.

Just when it looked like Loyola was about to enter the locker room for the first time this season at halftime, Williamson layup eleven seconds before the end of the game to bring the Ramblers to 33-31 over UIC.

Loyola went into halftime with the smallest lead to date, which, according to Valentine, increased the emotions in the locker room between periods.

“The boys were cheered,” said Valentine. “Every time we play someone from town, they take it personally. They took it a little too personally – I love their energy and emotions, but you have to learn how to control them [that] and use it in the right way. “

The second half was a whole different story for the Ramblers as they took their first double-digit lead over the Flames.

The two teams continued to switch back and forth at the start of the second half, but offensive performances from senior striker Ryan Schwieger and a dunk from graduate Aher Uguak with less than two minutes in the second sealed the deal for the Ramblers, bringing the result to 76 -62 in favor of Loyola.

Schwieger again led Loyola in the scoring and contributed 22 of 30 points from the bank. The Princeton University transfer also earned 22 points against Chicago State University on Nov. 16, and now averages 14.8 points per competition.

Williamson and Norris also scored double-digit points for the Ramblers with 16 and 12 points respectively. Meanwhile, the guard’s graduates Tate Hall and Uguak scored eight rebounds each.

Williamson, an established leader on the team, spoke to the advice he gives newcomers to the team when the scoreboard doesn’t look as promising as it has in other games this season.

“You took a few hard shots but didn’t blink,” said Williamson. “Keep playing the defense, keep the process and the offense – that’s just high-level college basketball.”

Loyola will travel to the Bahamas for the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. You are expected to play against Michigan State University on November 24th. The tip is scheduled for 11 a.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.

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