No. 22 Loyola Chicago looks to find its shot vs. Missouri State
A breakthrough from 3-point range fueled No. 22 Loyola Chicago to a 29-point victory at Evansville on Tuesday.
After shooting a collective 30.1 percent from beyond the arc in their first four games since the calendar flipped to January, the Ramblers connected on a season-best 58.8 percent of their 3-pointers against the Purple Aces.
Winners of 10 in a row, the Ramblers look for another strong performance from 3-point range on Saturday when they host Missouri State.
While Loyola (14-2, 5-0 Missouri Valley Conference) doesn't have an overreliance on 3-pointers, coach Drew Valentine finds certain intangibles mean his team always has the ability to get hot.
"If we go through a slump or two, a game or two where we're not making as many 3s, where our percentage isn't high, my confidence does not waver because of their work ethic and because of their character," Valentine said.
Lucas Williamson sparked Loyola with 15 points on Tuesday while making five of the team's 10 3-pointers.
Keith Clemons and Tate Hall each hit a pair of 3-pointers. Both reserves helped the Ramblers to a 35-6 edge in bench scoring.
"It was really fun to see Keith Clemons get in there and kind of look like his old self again," Valentine said. "I know where his heart is at, I know what he can do in big moments. ... Also, Chris Knight. He's starting to be really consistent with his motor, and I think you're seeing success out there on the court because of the multiple efforts that he's making on both sides of the court."
Winners of 10 of its last 12 games, Missouri State earned its third straight victory with an 88-63 romp against visiting Illinois State on Wednesday.
The Bears (14-6, 5-2) avenged a five-point overtime loss to the host Redbirds on Dec. 1, a game that saw Missouri State falter down the stretch.
"In that December game we were up nine, and we just didn't have that killer instinct," Gaige Prim said. "We weren't there yet, but tonight we showed a lot of maturity. When we had them down, we kept putting them down."
Prim registered a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Isiaih Mosley scored a game-high 24 points. Ja'Monta Black (14 points) and Donovan Clay (10) also finished in double figures to round out a balanced Missouri State attack.
Mosley, who scored at least 32 points in each of the three games prior to Wednesday, made up for lost time after the break after enduring first-half foul trouble.
Missouri State shot 57.7 percent while limiting Illinois State to 35.2 percent shooting -- including 22.2 percent from beyond the arc.
"Very proud of our guys' defensive effort," Bears coach Dana Ford said. "It's starting to be pretty consistent, which is a great sign for us. We've spent a lot of time emphasizing it and working on it."
Loyola Chicago carries a two-game series winning streak into Saturday and has won nine of 16 against Missouri State overall. The Bears are set to host the Ramblers on Feb. 6.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 20, 2022