NEW ORLEANS, La. - The Loyola University New Orleans men’s basketball team (14-9, 6-7 SSAC) is set to begin the final stretch of their season, starting this Saturday, when they host conference foe Faulkner (12-11, 5-8 SSAC) inside The Den at 4 p.m.
With just five games remaining and all against divisional opponents, every game weighs heavily on the ‘Pack’s pursuit of the SSAC tournament. Loyola sits in third place, 2.5 back from leader Belhaven and 0.5 game back from Mobile. William Carey, Spring Hill, and Faulkner are now all within one game of the Wolfpack.
The ‘Pack looks to avenge a 37-54 road loss to Faulkner from mid-January in which the Eagles held the Wolfpack to a season low in points. Since then, Loyola has gone on to score at least 72 points in every game, shooting 49% from the field in the six game span.
Loyola has won three of their past four conference games. Robert Lovaglio will get his first crack at the Eagles Saturday after missing the previous contest due to injury. Last season at home, Lovaglio produced a 16 point performance against Faulkner.
Corey Gray, who ranks 13th on the all-time career scoring list in Loyola history with 1,274 points, needs 16 more points to surpass Gus Reynoir. Gray is having a superb season and is nationally ranked in the NAIA in eight categories including, 11th in three-point field goals made per game (2.83), 22nd in free throw percentage (.817) and total scoring (418), and steals per game (2.22).
Cameron Cates joined Corey Gray with a national ranking this week, as the senior center is now 49th in blocks per game with 1.087. Cates has recorded eight total blocks in the past six games. The Flower Mound native is averaging 12.87 points per game and 5.52 rebounds per game this season, including one double-double.
Faulkner enters Saturday’s match-up coming off of a big 61-60 win at William Carey that keeps the Eagles right in the thick of things. Faulkner has won three in a row with execeptional defense. Faulkner has held their opponents to 60 points or less in the three game span.
Chris Palmore leads the Eagles with 15.82 points per game and 6.96 rebounds per game. The senior guard ranks 24th in the NAIA in defensive rebounds per game (5.45) and 34th in field goal percentage (.522).
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