Men’s basketball team earns No. 2 seed in tourney

19-6 Duhawks will take on Buena Vista in first round of IIAC Tournament
Photo courtesy of Jim Naprstek/Loras College Athletics. Junior Josh Ruggles drives into the lane for a basket.

This past week, the Loras College men’s basketball team took down two strong opponents, earning the No. 2 seed in the Iowa Conference Tournament. Simpson College and University of Dubuque could not overturn the Duhawks who now have a three game win streak going into the Iowa Conference Tournament.

“(In the Conference Tournament) there’s a very good chance that we play these teams again right back here,” said head men’s basketball coach Chris Martin.

Simpson College Storm drove out from Indianola, IA, last Wednesday, Feb. 14, with eyes locked on the No. 2 seed in the IIAC. The result of the conference game match-up between the Simpson Storm and the Loras College Duhawks had a huge impact on how both teams would line up for the IIAC conference tournament. The Duhawks, however, were able to slip away with the victory with a nail-biter, the final score being 87-86.

Junior guard Josh Ruggles led the team against Simpson with six rebounds and 29 points, 15 of them beyond the perimeter. Ruggles was 50 percent from the field, but distance did not play against him in this game. Other game leaders included junior Ryan Dicanio, adding four rebounds and 16 points to the results, and junior Jake Toman who put up eight points, four of them from the line.

The most intense part of the game came within the last few seconds when the score was tied at 85 and junior Demond George took the ball up the court. The entire gym expected Ruggles to get the ball however, George denied and charged to the basket earning a forced layup. With two seconds remaining, the Storm threw a hail-mary pass down the court to find Simpson’s Ben Rajewski. Rajewski attempted a layup to tie the game and was fouled hard by DiCanio. At that point, the clock expired.

Due to the hard foul, Simpson sent Kyle Wagner to the line in place of Rajewski. The quaking Loras fans in the stand caused Wagner to miss the first free throw, handing the Duhawks the No. 2 seed.
“The game did depend on that last shot, so I feel bad for him. We know we played for 39 and a half minutes and that last shot wasn’t the (deal breaker),” said Martin.

Then this past Saturday, Loras took down crosstown rival UD with a final score of 95-82. The team started strong with this game’s scoring leader, DiCanio earning the first six points. He ended the game with 30 points and six rebounds.

Looking forward, the Duhawks have a bye this Tuesday and will prepare to play the winner of the No. 3 Buena Vista University versus the No. 6 Central College, Thursday, Feb. 22, on the Lillis court.

“It’s going to be one of those games where the team that can get up and come fighting from the beginning is the team that’s going to win that game,” said Martin.

 

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