(Montgomery, AL) Despite four players in double figures, Loyola University New Orleans fell 81-63 to the NAIA’s #2 ranked, and SSAC East’s top seed Lee University on Thursday afternoon in the SSAC tournament. The tournament is being held at the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama.
Loyola opened the tourney by defeating the College of Coastal Georgia 99-72 in the play-in game, but could not overcome a tough Lee squad that pulled away in the second half.
Lee jumped out to an early 12-4 lead as five Flames players scored in the stretch but the Wolf Pack answered with eight straight and knotted the game at 12 on a Daniel Kuhl triple.
Loyola trailed 32-31 with three and a half minutes remaining in the opening stanza but the Flames went on an 8-1 run to close the half as both Will Barnes and Corey Billingsley tallied four quick points.
Lee opened the second half on a similar 8-2 run to increase the lead to 14, but the Wolf Pack fought back to cut the lead to 48-40 on a three pointer by McCall Tomeny. However, Duran Blue answered a few possessions later with a layup and the Wolf Pack never got the margin under 10 the rest of the game.
Coming off a career high game of 40 points and 14 rebounds, Tomeny put up 13 points and nine rebounds to lead Loyola. Kyle Simmons also tallied 13 points and led the team in assists with three. Daniel Kuhl scored 11 points off the bench thanks to three triples. Robert Lovaglio added 10 points to finish the season having scored in double figures in every game.
Barnes led the way for the Flames as he scored 23 points on 8 for 12 shooting from the floor. Steve Bennett grabbed a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Blue and Chase Dunn both poured in 10 points, while Blue led the squad with five assists.
Loyola had a tough day shooting, as they hit 32.8% from the field compared to Lee’s 45.3% mark. Lee hit the boards hard in the second half to win that category 46-34. Loyola held onto the ball well, as they tallied only seven turnovers but it was not enough to overcome the Flames.
Lee (29-2, 16-2) will move on to the semifinals of the SSAC tournament where they will square up with the winner of the matchup between Faulkner and Southern Wesleyan. Loyola (16-14, 9-9) will see there season come to a close.