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Loyola basketball rallies in second half behind Ben Averkamp, Jordan Hicks

Updated: March 2, 2013 11:53AM

When seniors Ben Averkamp and Jordan Hicks are attacking on the court, “it’s contagious for our team,’’ Loyola coach Porter Moser said.

The duo recorded the program’s first pair of 20-point games in more than a year to lead the Ramblers in a 76-65 victory Wednesday night against Milwaukee at the Gentile Arena.

Averkamp’s third double-double of the season (22 points, career-tying 12 rebounds) and Hicks’ season-high 21 points helped end a three-game home losing streak for the Ramblers (13-8, 3-5 Horizon League).

“We’ve had some tough losses at home [by two points and one point], so it was good to defend that home basket,’’ Moser said.

Hicks scored 15 in the second half, during which the Ramblers rang up 20 unanswered points and held the Panthers (5-17, 1-7) scoreless for nine minutes before freshman Austin Arians (17 points off the bench) hit one of his five three-pointers with 5:56 remaining.

“You saw a team that was much more aggressive and forcing some turnovers we hadn’t in a while,’’ said Averkamp, who tied John Egan of the 1963 national champion team for 17th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,315 points.

“For us to succeed in the league, we know we have to bring that effort every game,’’ he said.

“We came out tougher than Milwaukee,’’ Hicks said. “It started Monday in practice with things Coach said [after a 75-63 loss to Detroit.] The coaches have talked to me about stepping it up, and I ‘felt it’ today. I felt I could attack the basket.’’

The Ramblers were without starting sophomore guard Joe Crisman, who underwent surgery Wednesday for a broken pinky on his left hand injured Saturday during the Detroit game. The extent of the injury wasn’t known until tests late Monday. He is expected to miss three weeks.

In Crisman’s place, Moser started freshman guard Jeff White, who had missed the previous three games with a strained shoulder.

“Joe is our best defender, but Jeff really stepped it up defensively and held [Panthers scoring leader Paris Gulley] to six points,’’ Moser said.

The Panthers were the better team in the first half, holding a 33-32 lead at intermission and shooting 50 percent (13-for-26).

But the game turned in the second half as Hicks, Averkamp and sophomore Christian Thomas (16 points) led the attack.

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