Loras College Mens Basketball team completed their regular season with two impressive wins over Luther College and Central College. The defeated Luther College in the final seconds 87-84 and went out big against Central College with a 111-80 win.
Wednesday, Feb. 13, Loras hosted a “Black Excellence Night” for the mens and womens basketball games. The mens team was looking to stay motivated as they watched the women defeat Luther and wanted to do the same.
Luther jumped on Loras early by starting the game off on a 5-0 run. Loras would eventually take a 22-19 lead on a senior Josh Ruggles’ three pointer assisted by first-year Jordan Matthews. The two teams continued to play cat-and-mouse for last half of the first half until the final two minutes when the Norse closed things on a 7-0 run.
Duhawks were very familiar to this setting and quickly got things going in the second half when senior Demond George splashed a three when only 20 second went by. Loras battled Luther all the way down to the wire.
George gave the Duhawks a one-point lead with 25 second to go. The Duhawks were locking people down on defense on the other end but allowed a lay-up with five second to go. While inbounding the ball, Ruggles was fouled and proceeds to sink the following free throws to regain the lead.
Loras was 10 for 10 on free-throws in the final 2:19 to help overcome Luther.
George finished with 17 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals. It was a special night for George as he also become a member of the 1,000 point club at Loras College. He joins Ruggles and Ryan DiCanio as current players in the club.
Saturday, Feb. 16, the team headed southwest to battle Central College in their final regular season game. Loras played a tight game early, often trading baskets with Central. Loras lead at the half 52-45. Duhawks came out in full force in the second half as they opened a 16-point lead in the first five minutes. They would stretch it to 34 points at one point but ended up defeating Central 111-80. Ruggles and Dicanio had over 20 points apiece in the victory.
The team finished the year 20-5 with a conference record of 12-4. Coach Martin and the team had a season of ups-and-downs but had highlights of greatness with wins over Augustana and a number one ranked Nebraska-Wesleyan.
The season is not quite over as they take on the winner of (3) Wartburg College and (6) University of Dubuque at home Thursday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. in the American Rivers Conference Tournament. Loras has a combined 1-3 against both teams with all games being within five points.