With a second left on the clock, a foul called on Valparaiso sealed the victory for nationally ranked Loyola Chicago 52-54.
Sophomore forward Ben Krikke received a pass with three seconds to go and tried to score, but the ball did not fall in. But as returning sophomore guard Goodnews Kpegeol attempted to score on the rebound, he was called for a personal foul by contact due to pushing.
“I saw Ben shoot the ball, so I crashed and tried to go get the rebound,” Kpegeol said. “I don’t think I pushed off, but the ref obviously said different.”
Head coach Matt Lottich commented that from his angle, he thought there was contact made while the play was live.
“When they made the replay, it didn’t really look that bad,” Lottich said. “I just think that in a moment like that you got to be 100% sure. I thought live it looked like a push.”
Lottich believed that the team’s execution and gameplan was good against the nationally ranked conference team.
“We did a good job of taking our shot, executing what we wanted to do,” said Lottich. “We did a good job of keeping them in front and we made them beat us from the perimeter.”
In regards to the loss against Loyola, Lottich commented that he relates to how his players feel with this game.
“It hurts. Gosh, it really hurts,” said Lottich. “I’m more hurt for the guys because I know what it takes in a lot of ways to be successful in this game.”
Valpo’s largest deficit was 48-54 with a 1:39 left in the second half. The climb back started with Kpegeol’s layup to cut the Ramblers lead to four.
After Loyola was given the possession, freshman guard Sheldon Edwards took the opportunity and stole the ball. He would drive down the court and hit the lay up to make the score 52-54.
The game was closely contested throughout the first half and most of the second half. Valpo ended the first half in the lead with 29-26.
At the half, Valpo statistically was shooting better from the field than Loyola Chicago. Valpo made 11 of their 22 shots while the Ramblers were held to seven of their 21 shots.
Fifth-year senior Zion Morgan scored a career high of 15 points.
“He is a winner, he is a competitor,” said Kpegeol. “He is always going to try to go out there and try to win.”
Following Morgan in points were Krikke and Kpegeol. Both players scored 10 points individually.
However, the game did not fall in Valpo’s favor at the free throw line. Only one of six free throw attempts were made.
A small point of emphasis was found in the rebound column. Valpo out-rebounded the Ramblers, with sophomore forward Donovan Clay stepping up to grab seven rebounds.
Valpo will continue their season against Southern Illinois in Carbondale Sunday, Feb 21 at 4pm and Monday Feb 22 at 6 pm.