Loyola season ends at Youngstown State - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Loyola season ends at Youngstown State

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (March 5, 2013) – DJ Cole's scored on a runner with three seconds left to lift No. 6 seed Youngstown State (17-14) to a 62-60 victory over seventh-seeded Loyola University Chicago (15-16) in a Horizon League Championship First Round game tonight at the Beeghly Center. The three games between the Ramblers and Penguins were decided by a combined total of five points with all three contests decided in the final 10 seconds of regulation. Of Loyola's 16 losses this season, seven came by three points or less.

"I feel for all of the guys, but I feel terrible for Ben (Averkmap) and Jordan (Hicks)," Loyola head coach Porter Moser said. "The finality of knowing you'll never play another college game again is not easy. Those are two high-character guys who gave their all to Loyola. Youngstown State hit some key shots. Three different guards beat us this year when we played them,. We didn't play great, but did a lot of good things tonight. We definitely took a big step forward this year and there is so much upside for our young guys."

Youngstown State got out of the starting blocks fast, racing out to a 12-4 lead before the Ramblers began to find their rhythm on offense. A basket by Christian Thomas kicked off a 17-6 Loyola run that turned that eight-point deficit into a 21-18 lead.

Blake Allen banked in a three to draw the Penguins even at 27 and two free throws from Thomas and a bucket by Shawn Amiker sent the teams into the locker room tied at 29 and poised for another thrilling second half.

The script was flipped to open the second half as this time Loyola got off to a quick start, using an 11-5 run to break open a 40-34 advantage with just under 16 minutes to play. Youngstown State stormed back behind an 11-3 run of its own however, and Cole's jumper capped the run to give the hosts a 45-43 lead.

After a Matt O'Leary layup drew the Ramblers even, Allen hit a three to spark a 10-2 Penguin surge that matched Youngstown State's largest lead of the evening, at eight points.

Loyola picked itself off the mat and answered back and when Ben Averkamp hit two of three free throw attempts with 57 seconds left, the Ramblers trailed, 59-58. After Shawn Amiker split a pair of free throws, Devon Turk drew a foul while driving to the hoop with 12 seconds left and calmly drained both charity tosses to tie the game at 60, to set the stage for Cole's last-second heroics.

The Ramblers' bench outscored that of Youngstown State, 21-0, but the Penguins shot 50 percent (26 for 52) from the field for the game.

Thomas extended his streak of consecutive games scoring in double figures to 16 as he totaled a team-best 16 points and added six boards for Loyola. Averkamp came off the bench to produce 14 points and nine rebounds in the final game of his illustrious career, and Jordan Hicks capped his career in impressive fashion with 12 points and six boards.

Youngstown State, which advances to face No. 3 seed Wright State in the second round of the Horizon League Championship on March 8, was led by 15 points apiece from Allen and Kamren Belin.

One of the youngest teams in NCAA Division I play this season, Loyola returns everyone by Averkamp and Hicks for the 2013-14 campaign.

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