Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Loyola 80, Drake 65: Doyle shines on senior night

                                                     Photo Credit: Geno Green

CHICAGO— On an emotional night for seniors Milton Doyle and Glorind Lisha in their final home game, the Loyola Ramblers (18-12, 8-9 Missouri Valley) avenged an earlier defeat this season as they handled the Drake Bulldogs (7-22, 5-12 Missouri Valley) 80-65.

With the first half being a back and forth affair, Doyle set the tone in the first 1:52 of the second half as he played a role in the first eight Loyola points (five points and an assist), which led to the biggest lead of the game at 48-34 on Drake at the 15:29 mark.

"Milton has become so much stronger from last year because he can take those bumps and be able to finish like in the early going of the second half," Loyola coach Porter Moser said.

The senior highlighted five Loyola players in double figures scoring as he stuffed the stat the sheet with 16 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in 33 minutes.

Aundre Jackson continued his stellar play with a game-high 16 points, while Donte Ingram finished with his fourth double-double of the season (14 points and 11 rebounds).

Two of Ingram’s four double-doubles this season have come at the expense of the Bulldogs.

"Donte can shoot it so well, but I have also tried to talk to him about being an inside-outside guard in terms of mismatches," Moser said.

Loyola more than doubled its points in the paint total on Drake at 48-22.

Moser emphasized ball control as a key to success and for the second straight game, the Ramblers stayed in single digits in the turnover department with seven committed against the Bulldogs.

"We have had some hiccups, but over the long haul, we are at the top of the league with Wichita (State) in the assist to turnover ratio," Moser said. "It gives us those extra possessions, which puts in a better position to play our best."

The first four minutes of the game saw each team trade baskets as the lead changed hands in as many times.

The Bulldogs first three field goals came off long range makes from De'Antae McMurray, Reed Timmer and Billy Wampler.

Drake’s three-point game ceased temporarily as Loyola went on a 7-0 run to take its largest lead at 14-9 with 13:54 left in the first half. Woodward would deliver back-to back triples as the Bulldogs would go back ahead of the Ramblers, 19-18.

Jackson would score the next four, highlighted by a dazzling behind-the-back bounce pass from Ingram in which the junior finished with a layup.

The back and forth shenanigans continued for the remainder of the half as Loyola went into the locker room with a slim 33-32 lead on Drake.

In a nip and tuck affair, Doyle took over in the early portion of the second half as he played a role in the first eight Loyola points.

Doyle’s spark helped Loyola build a lead as big as 14 points, on its way to a 15-point win.

Both teams conclude conference play on Feb. 25 as the Ramblers travel to take on in-state rivals the Southern Illinois Salukis at 7 p.m., while the Bulldogs host the Bradley Braves earlier in the day at 1 p.m.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.