Loyola can’t break through against No. 5 Nevada at Gentile Arena
CHICAGO – It’s one of those games that Porter Moser would like to see more often in Rogers Park. But for now, it’s still something quite special.
The No. 5 team in America came into Gentile Arena on Tuesday night to face his Loyola team. It’s arguably the biggest game since the venue opened in 1996 as one of the main championship contenders made a visit to the Ramblers’ home gym.
Students arrived early and jammed their section in anticipation of a potential landmark moment for Moser’s team.
Not only would it mean some early attention for last year’s “Cinderella” team in the NCAA Tournament, but it offered a still molding Loyola team the shot at a signature upset early in the 2018-2019 season. After all, it was only last March that the Ramblers knocked off the Wolfpack in the Sweet 16 en route to the Final Four.
But that Nevada team, which returned nearly everyone from their South Region semifinal team from last season, wasn’t going to let their hosts have a breakthrough moment at their expense.
In front of a sold out crowd at Gentile Arena, the Wolfpack took a 15-point lead in the first ten minutes and kept the Ramblers at a distance the rest of the time. It wasn’t until the final three minutes that Loyola got the lead down to 11 as Nevada controlled the game in a 79-65 win over the Ramblers.
While Sister Jean got her Final Four ring, Loyola was saddled with their second-straight loss after the fell to Boston College in the championship game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off tournament last Wednesday. They are 4-3 on the season, with their other loss coming to 7-0 Furman- who remains one of the nation’s biggest surprise teams early in the 2018-2019 season.
Twins Caleb Martin and Cody Martin combined for 41 points to lead the way for the Wolfpack, who led by as many as 20 in the first half and by 16 at the break. Marques Townes tried to counter with a season-high 26 points and it was his bucket along with a foul with 2:19 left that got the Ramblers as close as they would be in the second half at 11 points behind.
It was a good effort, but it wasn’t enough to pull a major upset on a historic night at home. A breakthrough for this season will have to come another night.