(New Orleans, La.) Loyola University New Orleans men’s hoops was focused on more than just honoring their seniors as they defeated ninth ranked Faulkner University 61-43 in the last home game of the season at The Den.
The Wolf Pack honored senior Steve Davis before tipoff of the important SSAC contest. The first half was a hotly contested affair as Faulkner jumped out to a 9-3 lead after four minutes in part due to five Cyrille Sandjon rebounds in that stretch. However, the Wolf Pack countered with a 7-0 run sparked by five straight points from Daniel Kuhl. Neither team got any separation until the end of the half. Down two with 2:45 remaining in the opening stanza, Loyola closed the period by scoring 10 consecutive points. Cameron Hill converted a three point play to start the run and Davis finished with a layup off a pass from McCall Tomeny.
The second half opened with both teams trading baskets until Tomeny hit a jumper that put the Wolf Pack up 11 with 12 minutes remaining. Faulkner was never able to get the game back in single digits as the Wolf Pack played great defense throughout as they allowed only 43 points in the contest. They were able to extend the lead to 18 in the waning moments thanks to 7 of 8 foul shooting in the last two minutes.
The victory moves Loyola (15-11, 9-7) into third place in the western division of the SSAC. The Wolf Pack is now two full games ahead of Belhaven who is sitting outside the current conference tournament picture in sixth place. Faulkner (23-5, 13-3) is currently second in the division after dropping their second straight contest.
Tomeny finished the night with a game high 14 points and nine rebounds for the Pack. Lovaglio contributed 13 points while Kyle Simmons had nine to go with five assists. Mason Ibert hit all three of his three point attempts as he finished with nine points.
Sandjon finished the tilt with 13 rebounds and 11 points. Di’mar Hill was the only other Eagle in double figures as he also had 11 points.
The smothering Wolf Pack defense held Faulkner to just 27.6% shooting for the game. While they didn’t force a lot of turnovers, only eight, they had five blocks as a team and contested shots. Loyola shot 46.7% from the field and hit 73.7% of their free throws in the victory.
“Tonight’s game was a total team effort especially on the defensive end. I was very proud of our rebounding effort in the second half, especially late in the game. I thought the difference in the game was the play of our inside players. We contained them from scoring down low and were in great position to help stop their drives to the basket,” said Loyola head coach Dr. Michael Giorlando.
The Wolf Pack will hit the road for their last two regular season matches. They begin with a game in Jackson, Mississippi against Belhaven on Thursday February 21st starting at 7:30 p.m.