VanDeest and Carter Lead Menís Basketball Over Loyola, 70-62
DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake University men’s basketball team jumped out to an early lead and then staved off a late rally to defeat Loyola, 70-62, Saturday night at the Knapp Center.
Although Drake (13-13, 4-10 MVC) held a double-digit lead for most of the game, the Ramblers (9-17, 4-10 MVC) pulled within three in the final minute of the game to make the scoring margin the closest since the early minutes of the game.
After knotting the game at three points with 17:45 on the clock in the first half, Drake did not trail for the remainder of the game, keeping Loyola winless on the road this season and earning a series split with the Ramblers.
“This group has continued to come back every day and believe,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “They’ve shown no signs of cracking and when you stick together like that, you’re going to get rewarded.”
Subpar free-throw shooting from Drake helped Loyola to erase a 16-point second half deficit, as the Bulldogs hit 1-of-6 in the second half before converting 8-of-9 to finish the game and hold off the Ramblers.
Senior Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.) tallied his ninth 20-plus point performance of the season to lead Drake to its first win in February and halt a four game skid. Junior Jordan Daniels (Fontana, Calif.) added 12 points.
Despite their scoring, it was senior Seth VanDeest (Bettendorf, Iowa) who set the tone and controlled the boards all night in setting a career-high with 12 rebounds to go along with eight points and four assists. VanDeest’s career night on the glass helped the Bulldogs hold a 33-29 rebounding margin.
“Seth led the way with great leadership but more importantly what got us going was his passing,” Giacoletti said. “He’s as good of a passing big man as I’ve been around.”
Senior Aaron Hawley (Rogers, Ark.) and junior Trevor Berkeley (Tucker, Ga.) also scored eight points. Drake finished the game shooting 51.1 percent from the floor, and 38.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Although Drake extended its lead to 14 points early on in the second half, Loyola cut the lead to single digits and forced the Bulldogs to call a timeout with 14:21 left on the clock while clinging to a 41-34 lead.
The timeout effectively killed Loyola’s momentum, as the Bulldogs responded with an 11-2 scoring run to stretch the lead back to double figures, 52-36, midway through the second half.
Loyola once again cut into the lead and brought it within seven points, 57-50, with four minutes remaining in the game, as a result of a full-court press that caused problems for the Bulldogs. After another timeout, Carter drilled a deep three-pointer to give Drake a 10-point lead, 60-50, at the final media timeout of the game.
“We struggled with the press at first, but did a good job refocusing, which is what you have to do in close games,” VanDeest said.
Milton Doyle and Christian Thomas each scored 16 points to pace Loyola. Doyle also led the team with 10 rebounds, to record his first career double-double. After a sluggish start, Loyola finished the game shooting a 40.8-percent clip from the field.
Drake rode a hot-shooting start to take a double-digit advantage over the Ramblers early in the first half, and maintained a comfortable margin into halftime, leading 34-22 after 20 minutes of play. Carter and Daniels led the way for the Bulldogs in the first half, each scoring nine points, as the Bulldogs finished the half shooting 56.5-percent from the floor. Thomas carried Loyola, accounting for half of the Ramblers’ 22 first half points, the fewest the Bulldogs have allowed in an opening half this season.
Drake returns to action on Tuesday, hosting rival UNI at the Knapp Center. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. and the contest will be broadcast on Fox Sports Midwest and other MVC TV outlets throughout the league’s television footprint.