By: Sammy Stava
At halftime of the first game of MVC Quarterfinal Friday, Clayton Custer, the MVC Larry Bird Player of the Year and No. 1 seed Loyola’s leading scorer was held scoreless at the half. That may have been worrisome for the Ramblers, but Porter Moser’s team still led 25-21 at the break over No. 9 seeded Northern Iowa.
There has never been a No. 8/9 vs No. 1 upset in MVC Tournament history and Loyola was determined to keep it that way. Not only did the Ramblers advance with a 54-50 win over the Panthers, they also made a case for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.
With their most valuable player only scoring two points all game, Loyola had to find a way to win in a do-or-die tournament scenario, and that says a lot about this Ramblers team. It was an off night for Clayton Custer, but Donte Ingram and Marques Townes stepped up and both led the team with 13 points when buckets were at a premium at this game.
Loyola (26-5) is certainly surging at the right time. The Ramblers have won eight in a row, which is their longest winning streak this season and their longest in the Porter Moser era.
“We don’t talk about the Number 1 seed in terms of pressure. We talked about a lot of teams say, hey this is a new start, new season, the tournament, and we said we didn’t want to say that. This isn’t a new season for us. This is a continuation of us, our journey, and what we’re trying to do,” said Moser.
Loyola didn’t look like a team that was under pressure as a number one seed. As far as their journey goes? That continues tomorrow afternoon in the semifinals at 2:30.