By: Sammy Stava
It was starting to look like a tough match up for the Southern Illinois Salukis going in to start the Arch Madness Quarterfinal Friday. Already without Marcus Domask, they had to do without Lance Jones, who suffered an ankle injury in Thursday night’s 73-63 win over Bradley. Oh, and the Salukis also had to face the top seeded Loyola Ramblers, who came in as the No. 20 team in the country – according to the AP Top 25 poll.
Loyola is also ranked No. 1 in KenPom’s defensive effieciency ratings – and they certainly looked like it on Friday afternoon. The Ramblers opened the game on a 10-0 run, making life difficult for the Salukis.
The first time a No. 1 seed lost in the first round to an 8/9 seed was in last year’s Arch Madness when Northern Iowa fell to Drake. The Ramblers made sure that wasn’t going to repeat.
Southern Illinois couldn’t keep up as Loyola led throughout. They took a 35-22 lead into halftime and never looked back, including going on a 16-0 run in the second half.
Freshman center Jacob Huston led the team with 13 points coming off the bench and Loyola cruised to a 73-49 win over Southern Illinois. Two other players scored in double figures as Lucas Williamson and Braden Norris both had 11 points. This victory should be able to clinch the Ramblers’ NCAA Tournament at-large hopes, as they improved to 22-4 on the season. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Loyola as a No. 8 seed in his latest bracket.
Though, their automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament is still in progress, as the Ramblers have advanced to MVC Semifinal Saturday.