by Mike Kern

Doug Elgin Tournament MVP Lucas Williamson scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Loyola past Drake, 64-58, in Sunday’s championship game of the 2022 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

The Ramblers, 25-7, won their third Arch Madness title in five years, and join the 2020 Bradley Braves as the only two No. 4 seeds to win the title in the 46-year history of the Valley Tournament.

Drake, 24-10, was led by Roman Penn with 16 points, and Tucker DeVries’ 15 points and 4 blocked shots, in a rematch of the 2021 MVC Championship game also won by the Ramblers.

LUC fell behind 18-8 in the first 12 minutes as Drake had five blocked shots—three by DeVries–and four steals. But the Ramblers turned the tables, using five Bulldog turnovers and an 0-7 DU shooting slump to score 19 unanswered points to take a 27-18 lead.

The punctuation mark of that 19-0 Loyola run came when Aher Uguak made his first free throw, missed his second and got the rebound himself, pitching it to Braden Norris, who buried a three-pointer to give the Ramblers a 27-18 lead. But the Bulldogs fought back in the final two minutes with two Penn buckets and a Tremell Murphy three-pointer to cut the LUC halftime lead to 27-25.

Loyola stretched that lead to 31-25 with the first two baskets of the second half. Drake responded with a DeVries three, a Penn jumper and a Darnell Brodie put-back as part of a spurt that cut the LUC lead to 31-30 with 17:00 left.

The Ramblers stretched that lead to as many as six over the next eight minutes and led 46-42 when Uguak, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds, hit a bucket-and-one and Ben Schwieger split two free throws to make it 50-42 LUC with 8:26 left. Drake never got closer than six after that until the final four minutes.

Penn hit a jumper with 3:59 left and Garrett Stutz, after taking a charge, scored a conventional three-point play to close the gap to 55-51. Penn added two free throws with 1:44 left and LUC led by just two with 1:44 remaining.

Loyola put it away with nine free throws in the last 114 seconds: four by Uguak, two by Schwieger, two by Norris and one by Marquise Kennedy.

Norris joined Williamson on the all-tournament team, along with Penn and DeVries from Drake and Missouri State’s Isiaih Mosley. The Ramblers await their seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they advanced to the Final Four just four years ago. The Elite 17 Award winner for academic excellence representing Valley men’s basketball was Keith Clemons of Loyola.



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