Loyola beats the USF in an immediate non-conference rout – Greeley Tribune

Taylorsville, Utah (AP) — Ryan Schweiger scored 24 points on a 9-of-10 shooting to lead Loyola Chicago ahead of San Francisco 79-74 in a neutral-site matchup at Salt Lake Community College on Thursday.

Jacob Hutson added 13 points and Aher Uguak scored 10 for the Ramblers (10-2), who played for the first time since December 10 after six straight games were canceled or postponed due to COVID-19 issues.

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Johann Masalski scored 20 points and intercepted four shots to lead the Dons (13-2). Khaleel Shabaz added 15 points and Jamri Bouya added 13 points.

Loyola and San Francisco agreed to play a neutral-site competition earlier in the week after both teams postponed Thursday’s conference games due to COVID-19 issues with their opponents.

The impromptu game provided an opportunity for both teams to start again as they pursued NCAA Tournament bids. The Ramblers entered the NCAA net rankings at No. 19 on Thursday. The Dons were ranked 32nd – one of four West Coast Conference teams in the top 40.

“It’s great. Flying to Utah for a day of preparation and playing at a community college,” Schweiger said. “That’s the stuff that college basketball is all about.”

Both the teams played at a high level for 40 minutes. Loyola and San Francisco each shot more than 50% from the floor.

The Ramblers were never behind in the second half after Tom Welch made a go-forward layup and then dismissed Schweiger for a 3-pointer to put Loyola ahead 54-49. Loyola eventually extended their lead to 75-66 after Welch and Marquis Kennedy scored 10-2 with back-to-back lay-ups.

“Just a great job by our team to ease the strain in so many different ways,” said Ramblers coach Drew Valentine.

San Francisco reduced the deficit to three, pulled within 77–74 by Zayn Meeks on a 3-pointer with 1:23 remaining. Bouyea and Gabe Stefanini each had a crack at tying a 3-pointer in the final second but both players missed.

“It was the type of game I was hoping for when we committed to playing them,” said Dons coach Todd Golden. “I think both teams acquitted themselves really well. Obviously, I’m disappointed that we lost. We let it get a little off on us and then we fought back to the point where we had to go. Had two chances to tie it in less than a minute.”

Loyola took a seven-point lead during the first half. Lucas Williamson and Kennedy combined made six free throws, and Kennedy made a layoff to take a 14-7 lead, giving the Ramblers a 28-21 lead.

San Francisco responded with a 12-2 run to take a 33-30 lead late in the first half. Shabaz drove for a layoff and Meeks buried a 3-pointer on back-to-back property to close the run and put Dons in front before halftime.

A lost lead did not equal a lost confidence for Loyola.

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“We stayed aggressive,” Schweiger said. “Our coaches obviously made great adjustments at halftime and put us in a really good position. …we knew it would work for us.”

big picture

Loyola Chicago: The Ramblers showed some early rust after 26 days of going between games. He struggled to find his shot in the first half but settled in a groove after halftime. Loyola made 16 baskets and took 64% of the shots from the field in the second half.

San Francisco: Efficient shooting helped Don hang around for a long time. San Francisco made its first six field-goal attempts and shot 53% of the field in the first half. Dons didn’t get enough stops to make it count.

post season preparation

Both teams have shown up as contenders for NCAA Tournament bids in recent bracket estimates. When their respective schedules began, Golden and Valentine had a 45-minute conversation and jumped at the opportunity to pit their teams against each other on neutral courts.

They discussed possible sites in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver before reaching an agreement to play at the Bruin Arena. The 5,000-seat venue is home to the Salt Lake Community College Bruins, the No. 1 ranked men’s basketball team in the NJCAA, and the Salt Lake City Stars – a G League affiliate from the Utah Jazz.

“We’ve been trying to prepare our teams for the long haul,” Valentine said. “We’ve played at Battle 4 Atlantis and we’ve already seen how much it has helped our team grow. We’ve played at DePaul. We’ve played at Vanderbilt. And those games really helped our team grow and get better. And that’s why we wanted that opportunity.”

action scouting

Several scouts from the Utah Jazz were among the few dozen people who turned out to watch the MST tipoff that afternoon—including former Jazz GM Dennis Lindsay.


Loyola Chicago hosts Bradley on Saturdays.

San Francisco hosts San Diego on Saturdays.

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