(BALL STATE RELEASE)
MUNCIE, Ind. — Visiting Loyola Chicago limited the Ball State men’s basketball team to 18 points in the first half and held off a late Cardinals charge for a 70-58 victory Tuesday night in Worthen Arena.
Loyola (5-4) never trailed on the way to earning its second straight win. An 11-0 spurt late in the first half allowed the Ramblers to build a 13-point cushion. The Cardinals were held without a field goal the final 5:20 of the opening stanza and went into the break trailing, 31-18.
“I have to get us off to better starts and playing more consistently,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “That’s on me. We’re going to keep scratching, and we are going to get the right answer.”
The Ramblers came out of intermission on fire, making eight of their first 11 shots from the floor. Loyola stretched its advantage to as many as 23 midway through the second half, 45-22 and 54-31.
Ball State (4-4) made a charge in the waning minutes to cut the deficit to single digits, but Loyola made all eight free throw attempts in the final two minutes to keep the Cardinals from getting any closer than nine points.
“That was terrible basketball for the first 20 minutes,” Whitford said. “The second 20 minutes was really good basketball. If we would have played two halves like that, we come out of this game on top. You just can’t afford to do that at this level.”
Ishmael El-Amin was a bright spot for Ball State. The junior guard finished with career highs in points (24) and free throws made (8). Over the last four games, El-Amin is shooting 58.5 percent (24-of-41).
Ball State entered the month of December shooting 47 percent from the field. However, the Cardinals are shooting just 34.5 percent in two games this month, including 34.6 percent (18-of-52) against Loyola. To make matters worse, Ball State committed a season-high 20 turnovers against the Ramblers.
Four players reached double-figure points for Loyola, led by the Preseason Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Cameron Krutwig. The junior center notched 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Tate Hall added 14 points and five assists.
This was the second straight year these two teams met on the hardwood. Ball State earned a 75-69 win at Loyola last winter.
Ball State wraps up its five-game home swing Saturday against IUPUI. The game is part of a doubleheader with the Ball State women’s team. The men are slated to tip first at 1 p.m.