Arena Sportsnet

Ramblers Down Norfolk State

CHICAGO – Clayton Custer went 7-for-9 from three-point range, finishing with a team-high 21 points, as a hot-shooting Loyola University Chicago (6-5) squad rolled to an 80-49 victory over Norfolk State (4-8) this afternoon at Gentile Arena. One year after shooting a school-record 71.4 percent from the field against the Spartans, the Ramblers knocked down 68.3 percent of their field goal attempts today.

“We were locked in to start at both end of the floor and I thought we moved it and shared it and defended well in the first half. It was great to see guys hit shots. I thought we played the right way.”

Custer knocked down a trio of three-pointers in the opening six minutes to help fuel a fast start, as Loyola roared to a 15-6 lead. Norfolk State answered with five straight points of its own to close within four points, but the Ramblers countered that spurt with a 23-2 run of their own, capped by a three from Cooper Kaifes, to bump their lead to 38-13 with 3:25 remaining in the period.

A Bruno Skokna three-pointer with 56 seconds left in the half gave the Ramblers their largest lead of the period, at 46-15, and Loyola, which hit 12 of its first 18 attempts from the field, wound up shooting 65 percent (15-for-23) in the opening 20 minutes. Coupled with that efficient offensive performance, the Maroon and Gold played a smothering defense that held the Spartans in check and to a paltry 22 percent (6-for-27) from the field.

Although it wasn’t as crisp defensively in the second half, Loyola was never threatened as Norfolk State never was able to slice the deficit lower than 22 points.

Custer’s seven threes were one away from matching the Loyola single-game record of eight set by four different players. He finished with 21 points, his highest output of the season.

In its last two meetings with Norfolk State, Loyola has shot a combined 53-for-76 (.697) from the field and 23-for-35 (.657) from three-point territory.

Loyola’s 68.3 percent (28-for-41) field goal mark today is the second-best in a single game in program history.

Skokna totaled 13 points, six rebounds and two steals in his first game back after missing two contests with a thumb injury, and Kaifes pitched in 12 points, hitting 4-of-6 shots from beyond the arc.

Cameron Krutwig had a solid all-around performance, falling a rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine boards, to go with five assists.

Marques Townes dished out a career-best nine assists and added six points and four rebounds, while Christian Negron produced eight points, four boards and a pair of assists in his first career start.

Nic Thomas led Norfolk State with 18 points.

The Ramblers are back at it Tuesday night when they wrap up a brief two-game homestand by hosting Benedictine at 7 p.m.

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