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Loyola fritters away lead in disappointing loss to Green Bay

Updated: March 4, 2013 6:55AM

Porter Moser has a contagiously upbeat personality, but on Super Bowl Sunday last year he was wondering what he had gotten himself into as Loyola’s basketball coach. It wasn’t so much a 17-point home loss to Youngstown State, or an 11-game losing streak, or Loyola’s 0-13 Horizon League record.

The Ramblers hadn’t competed, hadn’t played hard, and no Porter Moser team should ever be accused of that.

Loyola hits Super Bowl Sunday this year with a victory total nearly double last year’s seven, but Moser would feel better about things if the Ramblers hadn’t squandered a five-point lead in the final 6½ minutes after coming back from 11 down in Saturday’s 73-65 loss to Green Bay at Gentile Arena.

“When you get a team down by five, you’ve got to get a couple of stops and hammer it down.” Moser said. “We didn’t do that. We relaxed and let them go on a 7-0 run.”

In addition to failing to seal the deal, Loyola (13-9, 3-6 Horizon) was out-talled and out-benched by the Phoenix (12-11, 6-4). With no one bigger than 6-8 Ben Averkamp to impede him, 7-1 Green Bay junior Alec Brown went for 25 points on 10-for-14 shooting, mostly jumpers from 15 feet or more. “He was phenomenal,” Moser said.

When point guard Kiefer Sykes, from Marshall High, went to the bench scoreless with an injured ankle, the Phoenix dusted off Cole Stefan and his 1.5 scoring average. Stefan, a sophomore transfer from La Salle, hit three of five three-pointers and finished with 14 points as Green Bay’s bench outscored Loyola’s 26-5.

Meanwhile, Phoenix freshman Jordan Fouse staked a quiet claim to being the best player on the floor with eight points, 13 rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. Sultan Muhammad collected 11 of his 14 points in the second half, including a shot-clock-beating three-pointer that helped Green Bay erase Loyola’s five-point lead.

“Same old story,” Moser said. “We shoot 48 percent, we have 19 assists [on 25 buckets] and we get beat at home.”

A telling stat: Green Bay shot 65 percent in the second half.

“We have three or four weak links defensively,” Moser said. “Guards see Loyola on the schedule, and they circle it, their eyes light up.”

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