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Loyola loses grip again, falls 62-61 to Wright State

Updated: February 13, 2013 6:14AM

Loyola had a double-digit lead on Horizon League favorite Wright State on Friday at Gentile Arena, just as it had last week against Youngstown State.

And just like last week, the Ramblers fell short in the final seconds, losing 62-61 to the Raiders, who remain undefeated in league play.

‘‘Again, it was our second-half defense,’’ Loyola senior Ben Averkamp said of Wright State’s 61 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes. ‘‘Defense has to be our calling card. We have to be a better team than that.’’

The loss was the third straight for the Ramblers (10-6, 1-3), all the more painful because it happened in the closing 1:34 of a game they had led by 11.

Sophomore guard Reggie Arceneaux led Wright State’s charge back, finishing with 29 points, including the last of his six three-pointers with 1:34 remaining.

The Ramblers had repeated chances in the closing minute, including a failed layup attempt by Averkamp in the final seconds.

‘‘We held them to 32 percent shooting in the first half and then, again, we let a team shoot more than 60 percent in the second half,’’ Loyola coach Porter Moser said. ‘‘They played hard. I can’t fault them for that, but guys have to make plays. We had chances.’’

The Ramblers had three players in double figures, led by Averkamp’s 15 points. Sophomore forward Christian Thomas had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.

The conference-leading Raiders (13-4, 4-0) also had a double-double from junior forward Cole Darling, who scored all 12 of his points in the second half and added 11 rebounds.

‘‘At halftime we were up by 10 [33-23] and feeling good about ourselves,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘Then they just came out with more fire. Darling had a good second half, but it seemed like they all were playing harder.’’

Wright State, which ranks 12th in the nation in scoring defense, extended its win streak to four, holding Loyola to 43 percent shooting for the game (40.7 in the second half).

Loyola junior guard Cully Payne was held to only three points, going 0-for-6 from the field with four turnovers to three assists.

‘‘Cully had an off game, and he knows that,’’ Moser said. ‘‘We need him to play better.

‘‘Down the stretch, you have to find solutions. We weren’t getting key stops. You have to credit them. They made plays. We have to get that kind of leadership.’’

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