GAME NOTES: In their final day of the South Florida Invitational the MD- EAstern Shore Hawks and the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers will be paired up at the USF Sun Dome Sunday afternoon.
It has not been a particularly positive start for MD-Eastern Shore this season. The Hawks lost for the fifth time in five tries on Saturday with a 68-51 loss at the hands of the Western Michigan Broncos. The Hawks' early season schedule is a grueling one with the team on the road in its first 12 games the next of which is against Delaware State on December 1.
After it earned wins in its first two games, Loyola-Chicago is back to even (2-2) with losses in back-to-back games. The most recent defeat was a 68-50 loss to host South Florida. Loyola-Chicago returns to its home state but not its home arena when it takes on Northern Illinois next Saturday.
In one previous meeting between these programs it was Loyola-Chicago that came out on top with a 79-54 victory back in 2008.
MD-Eastern Shore didn't have an answer defensively against Western Michigan. The Hawks allowed the Broncos to shoot at a 52.8 percent clip in the loss while turning in just a 35.2 percent effort from the floor themselves. The Hawks also lost the battle of the boards with a 35-28 discrepancy in rebounds. Troy Snyder was the lead scorer in the game for the Hawks with 12 points.
Failing on defense has been a real issue for MD-Eastern Shore on the young season. The Hawks are surrendering 70.8 points per game on 50.2 percent shooting to its opponents while scoring only 56.2 points per game itself. It is tough to imagine how much worse those numbers would be without Kyree Jones. The sophomore guard finished with 11 points against Western Michigan and is the only player on the roster averaging in double figures this season (13.8 ppg). Snyder (9.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg) is inching closer to being a consistent scoring threat and could do so if his shooting percentage (31.4) improves. Ron Spencer (9.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg) anchors the team inside with solid scoring and rebounding. center Olatunji Kosile (6.4 ppg) has found his way into the starting lineup in the last two games.
Loyola-Chicago fell victim to the punishing defense of South Florida on Saturday. The Ramblers were behind 38-21 at the half after connecting on 39.1 percent of its first half shots. It didn't get better from there as a 35.3 percent shooting effort in the final frame kept the Ramblers far away from striking distance. Loyola-Chicago hurt itself with turnovers (15), while no player managed to get into double figures.
Not having a double-figure scorer in a game is a surprise for Loyola-Chicago since Ben Averkamp has been so productive early on. The forward leads the team both in scoring (16.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.0 rpg) while also protecting the rim with some effectiveness (1.8 bpg). His nine-point effort against South Florida marked the first time this season that Averkamp failed to get into double figures. After Averkamp the scoring options are much more limited. Jordan hicks (8.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg) is an effective scorer as he puts in 53.8 percent of his shots but has not been a prolific offensive threat. Matt O'Leary (8.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg) has provided a spark off the bench. Loyola-Chicago has largely kept itself in games with defense as it holds opponents to 60.0 points per game while putting up 61.8 itself.
In this matchup having just one scorer that can consistently get points will be the key. Loyola-Chicago has the best option of the two squads in Averkamp.
Game Date and Time