Loyola beats Cleveland State, seals 7th seed in Horizon tournament
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org March 2, 2013 9:24PM
Updated: April 4, 2013 6:56AM
Loyola senior Jordan Hicks picked the perfect time to play his best college game: his last game in his home arena.
Hicks, who missed most of his sophomore and junior seasons with injuries, scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Ramblers to an 87-60 rout of Cleveland State in Horizon League play at Gentile Arena.
He did it with family and friends — including his mother, Carla, a cancer survivor seated in a wheelchair — from his home in Rochester, Minn., in attendance.
‘‘It was really emotional,’’ Hicks said. ‘‘Just to have all the guys and fans and the coaching staff having my back and giving me confidence. And having my mom there. I had fun with it. I was unconscious, I guess.’’
The victory gave Loyola (15-15, 5-11) the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament. The Ramblers will visit No. 6 seed Youngstown (Ohio) State in the opening round Tuesday.
‘‘You always envision things, but you couldn’t script a better senior day for Jordan Hicks,’’ Loyola coach Porter Moser said.
Hicks and senior Ben Averkamp were honored before the game. Averkamp returned to action after missing six games with concussion symptoms.
‘‘I’m so happy that with the career he’s had, being a [second-team] Academic All-American, that his last memories wouldn’t be the concussion,’’ Moser said of Averkamp, the Ramblers’ leading scorer at 15.3 points a game.
‘‘Just getting out there was a different feeling,’’ said Averkamp, who had six points and four assists off the bench. ‘‘The guys stepped up and played a heck of a game. It felt great to close things out with a resounding win.’’
Loyola heads into the Horizon League tournament with its best seeding since 2006-07, when it was a No. 3 seed.
‘‘I definitely feel we’re poised to do some things,’’ Averkamp said. ‘‘We’re going to Youngstown with the mind-set that we’re moving on.’’
The Ramblers lost both regular-season games to Youngstown State by a combined three points.
‘‘I think being in close games is a good thing down the stretch, but we have the mind-set now to finish games,’’ Averkamp said.
Loyola also got 19 points from Christian Thomas and 13 points and six assists from Jeff White. Cleveland State was led by Byrn Forbes’ 15 points.