PEORIA, Ill. — Take note Missouri Valley Conference, Loyola Ramblers senior Milton Doyle wants nothing less than a conference championship this season.
Doyle, continuing a trend of double-digit point-performances, scored a career-high 35 points to lead the Ramblers to a 78-62 victory over Bradley.
“I’m proud of how we defended. Everyone is going to look at the points, but defensively, Milton dictated things,” said Ramblers’ head coach Porter Moser. “He didn’t take any possessions off.”
From the onset, the Ramblers accomplished anything and everything.
Maurice Kirby began the contest with an offensive rebound and put-back jumper. Doyle proceeded to take the scoring baton, producing 8 points in a 15-2 Loyola run.
The young Braves, refusing to allow the opening minutes serve as a deterrent, began a rally following Brian Wardle’s second timeout in the first five minutes.
Bradley freshman Nate Kennell, who was making his first start of MVC play, spurred a change of momentum with a pair of made free throws.
After starting 1-of-6, the Braves had the courage to go 9-of-15 over a span of nearly 10 minutes. Leading scorer Darrell Brown followed the way of his counterpart (Doyle) by posting 8 points in the segment. Moreover, his jumper at the 5:40 mark erased a 13-point Ramblers’ lead and pulled Bradley within two.
We had ourselves a new ballgame, but not for long.
Ben Richardson restarted the attack for Loyola. Him and Doyle each swished a triple, upping the advantage past a single possession. Two from Aundre Jackson spurred an 11-2 spurt that sent the Ramblers to halftime up 44-31.
In the second half, Loyola continued to build their lead. The Ramblers posted eight unanswered, pushing the margin to 23.
The Braves failed to come any closer than 13 points during the second half. Three more of Kennell’s career-high 17 points made the score 74-61 with 2:01 remaining in regulation.
Loyola was onward to two consecutive victories.
Facing a very talented backcourt, the Braves’ freshmen duo of Darrell Brown and Nate Kennell held their own. Each pushed 20 points on the night; Brown had 19 while Kennell spotted 17. Brown also grabbed 5 rebounds. Aside from the two guards, Koch Bar had 8 points.
35 points on 13-of-17 shooting and 11 rebounds, senior Milton Doyle had a game to remember. Five of his 13 made field goals were three-pointers.
Doyle, a homegrown talent from Chicago, has, again, been phenomenal this season. The 6’4″ guard has not been held under double-digit points thus far. Moreover, he is averaging 17.8 points, 6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.3 steals per game in four conference contests. In other words, Doyle is playing like a 1st team all-conference selection in the “The Valley.”
Along with Doyle, three Ramblers scored in double-figures. Ben Richardson made five three-pointers in a 17-point, 5-assist performance while Donte Ingram was two rebounds shy of a double-double with 11 points and 8 rebounds. Aundre Jackson contributed 13 points.
With tonight’s loss, the 7-10 (2-2) Bradley Braves fall back to .500 in conference play. An interesting slate begins for Wardle’s team. The next two opponents, Northern Iowa and Indiana State, combine for a 0-7 conference record. However, if one knows anything about the Northern Iowa Panthers and Indiana State Sycamores, they possess better teams than the records indicate.
After dropping the first two of MVC competition, the Loyola Ramblers have quieted critics. Porter Moser’s squad is now on a two-game winning streak, defeating opponents by an average margin of 13.5 points per game. Their biggest test of the season will come on Wednesday in Wichita, Kansas, versus the preseason favorite Wichita State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST on ESPN3.
– P. Wesner