Home CollegeSLU Billikens Billikens Fall to Loyola Chicago, 80-73

Billikens Fall to Loyola Chicago, 80-73

by Brian Kunderman

Saint Louis overcame a large first-half deficit and pulled even with Loyola Chicago in the second half, but the visiting Ramblers escaped Chaifetz Arena with an 80-73 victory Wednesday night in the Atlantic 10 Conference opener for both teams.

SLU slipped to 7-7 overall, while Loyola improved to 9-5 with its third straight win.
Gibson Jimerson led the Billiken scoring effort with 19 points, followed by Terrence Hargrove Jr. with 18 and Bradley Ezewiro with 13.
Ezewiro added a game- and career-high 10 rebounds for his first career double-double, while Larry Hughes II (career high) and Kellen Thames grabbed six boards apiece as Saint Louis gained a 44-30 edge on the glass including a season-high 19 offensive caroms.
Michael Meadows Jr. had five assists, and Hughes matched his career best of three steals.
A 3-pointer early in the second half stretched Loyola’s five-point halftime lead to eight, 44-36, before the Billikens began to chip away.
Hargrove tallied a free throw and a 3-pointer to spark a 17-9 run, followed by eight straight points from Ezewiro. A Jimerson bucket drew SLU to within a point, and Hargrove buried another triple at the 13:23 mark to tie it at 53.
Following two Loyola free throws, Thames’ layup knotted the score at 55. Des Watson drilled one of his five 3-pointers on the Ramblers next possession to put the visitors back in front for good, and Loyola gradually built its lead to eight, 68-60, with 5:51 remaining.
Hughes netted a pair of 3-pointers around two Hargrove free throws to make it a one-possession game, 71-68, with 3:29 to play. But Loyola responded by scoring the next six points to gain some breathing room.
Loyola raced to a 14-2 lead before the first media timeout, and an 11-2 run gave the Ramblers their largest advantage, 36-18, with 5:36 left in the first half.
It was 41-26 Loyola with just over two minutes remaining when Saint Louis embarked on a 10-0 spurt to close the half. Ezewiro ignited the run with a second-chance bucket, followed by a Hargrove 3-pointer. Meadows sank a free throw, Jimerson hit two from the stripe, and Meadows got an off-balance shot to fall to make it 41-36 Loyola at the break.

Saint Louis plays at George Mason Saturday, Jan. 6, at 1 p.m. Central. The game will be televised on USA Network.

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