In a tight affair, the Loyola Ramblers dropped tonight’s contest against the UIC Flames, dropping a 10-game winning streak against their crosstown rivals by a score of 72-67. The Ramblers struggled to take control and found themselves down when it mattered, dropping them to 1-2 on the year. Here are three observations from the loss:
No answer for Rivera and Okani
The Flames were led offensively by powerhouse performances from seniors Isaiah Rivera and Toby Okani. The two combined for 43 points, accounting for 60 percent of their team’s total score. Rivera led all scorers with 23 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds, while Okani sniffed a double-double with 20 points and 8 rebounds (albeit with 8 turnovers).
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The return of Marquise Kennedy
Tonight’s game saw the return of graduate student Marquise Kennedy to Gentile Arena. The guard spent four years with the Ramblers from the 2019-20 season to the 2022-23 season, playing a key role in Loyola’s 2021 Sweet Sixteen run. Tonight, it was Kennedy who dealt the final blow to the Ramblers, accounting for 10 points (including a perfect 8-8 clip from the free throw line late in the game).
Philip Alston goes down
The Ramblers were without arguably their best player for the majority of the game, as senior Philip Alston went down midway through the first half and was subsequently taken off. The forward went straight to the locker room, not returning for the rest of the game. In his post-game press conference, head coach Drew Valentine stated that he was confident there was no tear and that he would have a better idea of Alston’s status tomorrow.
The Ramblers will be back in action on Saturday, taking on New Orleans with a 3 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Chicago+.