NEW ORLEANS, La. - The Loyola University New Orleans men’s basketball team emerged victorious on Senior Day as they ousted the visiting Mobile Rams 62-55. The victory gives Loyola the Southern States Athletic Conference West Division Crown and a top seed in the ten team SSAC Tournament slated to start on Wednesday. The title is their first in just two years of SSAC competition. The Wolfpack finish the regular season 19-9 overall and 11-7 in SSAC play. Mobile drops to 13-16 and 9-9 in conference.
Corey Gray climbed yet another spot on the Loyola all-time career scoring list with his team leading 19 points. The senior passed Sean Bennett (1,340 pts) and is now in the #11 spot with 1,345 career points. Gray is 15 points shy of #10 Sam Trombatore who sits with 1,360 points.
Fellow senior Cameron Cates recorded his third double double on the year. Cates scored 11 points and tied his career high of 12 rebounds. Robert Lovaglio scored in double figures as well with 13 points. In addition, senior Dylan Kremer provided solid minutes off the bench, scoring six points.
Mobile jumped out 4-0 to start the game, but Loyola responded with a 15-5 run to enjoy a 15-9 advantage early. The Rams answered back to force nine lead changes and seven ties in the first stanza. With seconds remaining in the half, Mobile’s Christian Salinas dribbled the length of the court for a last second lay-up to force a 36-36 tie at half.
In the opening 20 mintues, the Rams shot 56% from the floor as the ‘Pack countered by getting to the line and knocking down 11 of 12 free throws. Mobile’s Ji Kimbrough scored 16 points on a perfect 6-6 from the field.
Loyola picked up their defensive pressure in the second half, frustrating the Rams’ shooters. Mobile did not register a field goal until Kimbrough’s basket at the 13:40 mark. The Rams finished the second half with just six made field goals.
Loyola built their largest lead to 13 points with 5:40 remaining, thanks to a basket by Kyle Simmons. The ‘Pack never allowed Mobile back in the game, maintaining at least a seven point lead the rest of the way.
Loyola has now won five straight games, their longest win streak of the season. The ‘Pack last accomplished this feat when they won five straight games to kick-off the 2008-09 season.
The victory also hands Loyola head coach Dr. Michael Giorlando his best regular season winning percentage in his eight year career with the Wolfpack at .679. The percentage is the best since Jack Orlsley’s 1947-48 squad finished 21-9.
Ji Kimbrough tallied just five points in the second, thus finishing with a team high 21 on the game. Marcus Polnett and Christian Salinas both recorded 10 points.
Loyola opens SSAC Tournament play Thursday, March 1, in Rome, Georgia. They will play the winner of the Wednesday night game between the 4th team in the East vs. the 5th team from the West.
# # #