Men’s basketball team tied for 1st in IIAC, clinches tournament spot

Men’s basketball team tied for 1st in IIAC, clinches tournament spot

Coach says DiCanio is a formidable player, especially as a defender

by Frank Fernandez

While many Duhawks were at home enjoying winter break, the men’s basketball team were on a mission to deliver Loras their first conference championship in a decade.
On December 10, the Duhawks defeated UW-La Crosse and kick started an 11-game winning streak that shot them up the standings. The rocky start to the season seems like a distant memory for Loras, as they currently sit in a tie for first place with Buena Vista.

After their long win streak came to an end, the Duhawks dropped back-to-back conference games to Wartburg and Simpson. The drought did not last long as the men bounced back with two more Iowa Conference victories this past week.
The first of these two games came against the Central College Dutch in the AWC. The Duhawks started slow, falling behind by double digits in the first half before cutting it to a six point deficit at the break.

As the second half got underway, the Dutch regained their double digit advantage and led by as many as 14, hitting 10 three pointers for the game.

Loras began their comeback thanks to senior center Danny Quinn, kick starting a 20-0 run that put the Duhawks ahead for good. Defense was the difference as the Duhawks forced seven turnovers and held on for an 82-71 victory.

The second game of the week brought the Duhawks on the road to Decorah to take on the Luther College Norse. This game belonged to sophomore guard-forward Ryan DiCanio as he shot lights out all day.

photo courtesy of Loras College Athletics

“Ryan DiCanio has been a guy that has really committed himself to rebounding and defending and has become one of the best defenders in our league,” said head coach Chris Martin.

DiCanio finished with 27 points and shot 6-for-7 from deep, including three straight in a 70 second span.

“Once I see the ball go through the hoop, my confidence just builds,” said DiCanio.  “So after that first three-pointer hit went in, my confidence to shoot the next one raised and then it was just a snowball effect for the rest of the game.”

The Duhawks as a team shot 59.1 percent for the game from three-point and held off Luther, 86-72.

While the Duhawks have already clinched a spot in the conference tournament, they are still fighting for home court advantage, which makes the final two regular season games that much more important.

“The aspect of our team I love the most is we don’t ever slow down,” DiCanio said. “We are at the end of our season and our practices are still tougher than ever. With that being said, I believe we have a strong chance in the upcoming postseason with the heart and desire we play with. Right now, we are just focused on getting a first round bye for the playoffs.”

The purple and gold next will go to Cedar Rapids to take on Coe.  The first time the two sides met this season went the Duhawks way in an 88-75 triumph, led by the hot shooting of sophomore Josh Ruggles.

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