Loyola rides big first half to win over Norfolk State

norfolk stateLoyola rode a big first half to an eventual 80-49 win over the Norfolk State men’s basketball team in a non-conference game on Sunday afternoon at Gentile Arena.

The Ramblers shot 65 percent in the first period for a 31-point lead at the break, the final margin in the contest as well. They made 13-of-22 from deep and held the Spartans to 35 percent shooting, including 22 percent in the first half.

The Spartans played the Ramblers even in the second half, thanks in part to junior Nic Thomas. He led NSU with 18 points, all after intermission, and was the only player to reach double figures for the Spartans (4-8).

Loyola (6-5) had four players do so, including the game’s leading scorer Clayton Custer. He shot 7-of-9 from deep for a 21-point day. Cooper Kaifes shot 4-of-6 from 3-point range for 12 points, while Bruno Skokna added 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting with six boards.

The second half proved to be much better for NSU than the first. The Spartans shot 46 percent in the last 20 minutes of the game, scoring 19 more points than the first half while holding the Ramblers to 12 less points than they scored in the first period as well.

They started the second period on an 11-4 run, as Thomas had seven points during that time. He connected on 3-pointers two more times over the next several minutes, both times getting NSU to within 23.

A putback by sophomore Kyonze Chavis with 8:57 to go made it a 65-43 game, and the Spartans still just trailed by 23 with 5:21 left on the last trey from Thomas. Loyola, however, scored nine of the game’s last 10 points over the final five minutes.

Jamerson knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to start the game, but Loyola scored seven in a row to build a 15-6 lead. The Spartans later got to within four thanks in part to a trey from senior Armani Branch, but Loyola scored the game’s next 11 points for a 26-11 lead with 7:34 to go in the first half.

It proved to be part of a much larger 23-2 run for the Ramblers that pushed their advantage to 25. After a jumper from sophomore Mastadi Pitt, the Spartans went into the half down 46-15 to Loyola. The Ramblers outscored them 31-4 in the last 12 minutes of the first half.

Cameron Krutwig contributed 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Ramblers, doing most of his damage in the first half. He helped them to a 33-20 edge on the glass, although just four came on the offensive side.

They finished the game 28-of-41, with 24 assists on those 28 buckets. That came after Loyola shot 25-of-35 (71 percent) at home against the Spartans last year.

NSU forced 17 Rambler turnovers and had 12 steals along the way, four from Thomas. Senior Jordan Butler added nine points and four rebounds.

The Spartans will head out West to El Paso to take part in the Sun Bowl Invitational hosted by UTEP next Friday and Saturday.


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