By Elan Kane
Loyola coach Porter Moser did not even realize it had happened until he was asked about it after the game.
“That was a six-point play?” Moser said during his postgame press conference. “Yeah, let’s just call that a big segment right there.”
With Loyola trailing Missouri State 60-57 late in the second half Sunday afternoon at Gentile Arena, senior guard Milton Doyle scored six points on one possession to give the Ramblers a 63-60 lead, en route to a 77-71 comeback victory against their Missouri Valley opponent.
With 4:25 left in the game, Doyle scored a layup while getting fouled. The referees ruled the foul to be a flagrant, meaning Loyola would get two free throws and possession of the ball. Doyle hit both foul shots and scored another layup on the ensuing inbound as Loyola took a lead they would not relinquish. Doyle admitted with a smile after the game that it was the first time he had done that.
For Moser, the sequence highlighted the team’s halftime objective, which was to win each segment of the second half.
“The first media timeout was a segment we won by two points,” Moser said. “The next media segment we won by one. We kept on talking about ‘Hey, keep grinding,’ and then we finally broke away.”
With the team going 3-4 after a 10-2 start, that is also the mentality players are trying to embrace moving forward in conference play.
“You can’t think about any runs or anything like that,” Doyle said. “Just the next game, next opponent, focus on that.”
Sophomore guard Clayton Custer played despite having the flu last week, but was not at full-strength, according to Moser. Moser said he was pleased Doyle, junior forward Aundre Jackson and freshman guard Bruno Skokna responded well to the opportunities to handle the ball more.
Doyle and Jackson in particular carried Loyola down the stretch, accounting for 15 of the team’s final 20 points in the final 4:25 of regulation with the Ramblers outscoring the Bears 49-32 in the second half. Jackson struggled to score in early conference games, but said he credits his teammates for giving him a renewed sense of confidence.
“When I had a little slump, [my teammates] just told me ‘Just be [you], you’re a beast,’” Jackson said.
Moser noted Jackson’s work ethic for the reason he has performed better recently.
“How you get out of a slump, is you’ve got to practice great,” Moser said. “Don’t hope you’re going to get out of the slump … and he’s got that bounce back the last three games.”
The Ramblers are 9-1 at home this season, but have struggled on the road with just a 2-4 record.
The team heads to Northern Iowa Wednesday, and Moser said the ability to win on the road will come from how well the team prepares, rather than strength of the opponent.
“This is a game about us trying to move up the standings,” Moser said. “It’s going to be about us, how well we can play going to Northern Iowa.”
After Sunday’s game, though, Moser said he will need some time to process the win.
“[We’re] going to start getting on that in a couple of hours when my mind stops racing,” he said.