Loyola-Chicago falls short against No. 19 Spartans
Ben Averkamp did all he could for Loyola of Chicago, then
challenged his teammates to turn a respectable loss into a
Averkamp scored 25 points, including four 3-pointers, as the
Ramblers couldn’t hang on in the second half of a 73-61 loss to No.
19 Michigan State, snapping a four-game winning streak.
”Our guys have to learn that we’re right there,” Averkamp
said. ”Moving forward, if we learn from this, it was a good game
for us. If not, we really have to look at ourselves.”
Freshman Gary Harris shed the protective sleeve on his sprained
left shoulder, then scored 14 of his career-high 20 points in the
second half for the Spartans. He finished 7 for 11 from the field,
including 5 for 7 from 3-point range.
”He’s a very unselfish kid,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo
said. ”He took the brace off today, and I’m not sure like that. I
might be fist-fighting the doctors today. But he has a chance to be
a great player.”
Adreian Payne added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Michigan State
(8-2), his second double-double in the last three games. Travis
Trice had 11 points, while Keith Appling, the Spartans’ top scorer
this season, had eight points and seven assists, mostly on feeds to
”If I’m open, I’m going to shoot the ball,” Harris said. ”I
need to come out like that at the beginning instead of having
someone get into me.”
Part of the reason for that was the play of Averkamp, who burned
the defense off high ball screens and was effective down low,
grabbing eight rebounds for the Ramblers (6-3). Devon Turk added 10
”We have to learn we can’t just be close,” Loyola coach Porter
Moser said. ”Michigan State has a culture. And we were a step slow
getting to Harris and a little uneasy in the second half. We have
to compete for 40 minutes.”
Michigan State used a 22-9 run, including three 3’s from Harris,
to start the second half and build a 52-41 lead. Loyola clawed back
within three but saw their last push end with a jumper by Appling
and a putback dunk by Payne.
”It was a tough game,” Izzo said. ”We didn’t play great. We
didn’t play bad. We had a couple of rough stretches with really
foolish turnovers. But we took a little step in the right
The Spartans shot 49 percent from the field and the Ramblers
just 36. But Loyola-Chicago, winners of four straight coming in,
held its own on the boards against one of the nation’s top
rebounding programs, trailing just 33-31.
The Ramblers overcame a 10-point deficit and took a 28-25 lead
on a 3 from Cully Payne, a transfer from Iowa who had played in
Breslin Center in 2010. Loyola-Chicago’s advantage reached five and
was 32-30 at halftime, after it was 5-for-9 from long range and
shot six free throws after fouls on other 3s.
Averkamp and Turk each had eight first-half points for the
Ramblers, who were outrebounded and outshot from the field and the
line in the first half. Payne had nine points and five rebounds for
the Spartans before the break, but starting guards Appling and
Denzel Valentine were scoreless.
Michigan State had allowed just 39 and 44 points in the previous
two games. It was a different story against an improved opponent
that didn’t win its sixth game last season until Feb. 11. But the
Spartans regrouped and left with their 70th straight win at home
over an unranked non-league opponent.
Next Saturday, both teams will pay tribute to the ”Game of
Change,” a matchup 50 seasons ago that helped to integrate college
athletics. The Ramblers will face Mississippi State, the all-white
team they beat en route to the 1963 national title. Michigan State
will host Tuskegee in Jenison Field House, the scene of one of the
sport’s most important games.
”It’s all about tradition,” Moser said. ”There are a lot of
little things that have gone into this 50th anniversary season. One
was playing here in East Lansing.”