(New Orleans, La.) Loyola University New Orleans men’s basketball team upset Bethel University 85-76 on Saturday afternoon in The Den. The Wildcats are receiving votes in the most recent NAIA Coaches’ Poll.
The Wolf Pack opened the game on an 11-4 run and did not trail at any point during the 40 minute contest. All five starters scored in the opening burst to allow Loyola to take a seven point advantage after only 4 minutes and 51 seconds elapsed. The lead ballooned to 10 at the 12:16 mark when McCall Tomeny converted a three point play off of one of Kyle Simmons’ team best five assists.
The Wildcats answered with a 10-0 run which included five straight points from Bethel’s Walt Andrews that brought the game level at 19. Simmons starred over the next four minutes as the Pack went on a 10-3 run. The junior guard fueled the spurt with four points and two assists to Cameron Hill. The teams fought back and forth over the next couple minutes as the Loyola lead fluctuated between three and six. It stood at six when Andrews, who had 12 points and nine boards in the half, ended a dominant first stanza with a bucket to cut the score to 41-37.
The Pack came out after intermission and scored eight of the first 10 points of the half as Jalen Gray added four of his 17 points in the game. The Loyola enjoyed their largest lead of 11 points with a Tomeny putback layup with 15:42 remaining in the game. However, Bethel slowly whittled away at the Wolf Pack margin over the next 10 minutes. Mark Vaughn’s layup with 5:13 left cut the Pack lead to at 65-61..
A momentum altering alley-oop from Simmons to Tomeny with 4:24 left in the game restored the advantage to six. Andrews hit one of two free throws on the next possession, but the Wildcats never got closer than five the rest of the way as the Wolf Pack converted their free throws down the stretch.
All five starters for Loyola (6-19, 5-13) scored in double figures. Simmons fueled the effort with 20 points while Tomeny finished with 17 and a team best 14 rebounds. Hill chipped in a season high 18 points while Daniel Kuhl tallied 13, as the Wolf Pack starters accounted for all 85 points on the evening. The Pack won on the strength of 54.9% shooting from the field, including a scorching 59.3% in the first half. They also converted 26 of their 35 free throws while only allowing 20 attempts at the other end.
Bethel (18-10, 9-8) received 28 points from Vaughn on 12 of 27 shooting. Andrews finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds. Cole Nelson scored 12 while Justin Williamson added eight off the bench. The teams each secured 35 rebounds, but the Wolf Pack had 18 assists to only six for the Wildcats. Bethel shot 42.9% from the field and struggled from outside, only hitting 25% of their three pointers.
The Loyola men will be back in action at 7:30 pm on Thursday, February 27th in Jackson, Mississippi as they take on Belhaven University in their last road contest of the season.