After loss, No. 22 Loyola Chicago faces Valparaiso

NCAA

Looking to get back on track, No. 22 Loyola Chicago will see its comfort level rise with a home matchup Wednesday against Valparaiso.

The Ramblers enter with a 19-game home winning streak as they look to avoid consecutive overall defeats for the first time since December during the Missouri Valley Conference matchup.

Loyola (18-4, 13-2 MVC) saw its 11-game overall winning streak end with Sunday’s 51-50 overtime loss at Drake, splitting a weekend series at Des Moines, Iowa. The Ramblers still sit atop the MVC standings.

After shooting 63.8 percent in Saturday’s 81-54 rout of second-place Drake, the Ramblers shot a season-low 35.1 percent overall in Sunday’s rematch. Loyola was 1 of 10 from 3-point range in the second half and overtime, while committing 19 turnovers that resulted in 22 points.

The Ramblers, whose previous defeat came at Indiana State on Jan. 10, last lost two in a row on Dec. 15 at Wisconsin and Dec. 18 at home to Richmond.

“We just had so many uncharacteristic turnovers and definitely had our chances, but just didn’t get it done,” Loyola head coach Porter Moser said. “… We’ll move on.”

The good news for the Ramblers is that they continue to play the best defense in the conference, holding opponents to an average of 55.9 points and 39.8 percent shooting after keeping Drake’s offense in check.

Loyola has not lost at home since Dec. 22, 2019, to Davidson, and is 3-0 at home against Valparaiso, which joined the conference for the 2017-18 season.

Cameron Krutwig leads the Ramblers with 15.0 points per game, 6.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists. When the teams met Jan. 20 at Valparaiso, Krutwig had 15 points and Lucas Williamson scored 11 as the Ramblers shot 53.6 percent and cruised to a 75-39 victory. Valpo shot 30.6 percent and had 16 turnovers.

Loyola has won eight of the last nine meetings between the teams.

Eron Gordon had 14 points for Valpo (8-14, 5-8) in the previous meeting while Ben Krikke had 12. Krikke leads the team with 12.4 points per game,

Valpo enters after a 74-60 loss at Northern Iowa on Sunday to split a weekend road series with the Panthers. Northern Iowa shot 52.8 percent and went 8 of 17 from 3-point range. That loss came one day after Valpo held the Panthers to 33.9 percent shooting during a 70-57 victory.

“(Lack of consistency) is a little bit of what we’ve been going through,” Valpo coach Matt Lottich said, according to the Northwest Indiana Times. “Just the emotional consistency that some teams have.”

Valpo, which has lost five of its last seven, did defeat then-No. 25 Drake 74-57 on Feb. 7.

Loyola’s Krutwig, who posted consecutive double-doubles against Drake over the weekend, has averaged 16.7 points in three home games versus Valparaiso. Aher Uguak has averaged 15.0 points in the last three overall games for the Ramblers.

–Field Level Media

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