Loyola honored its 1963 national championship team Saturday, then celebrated with a 69-60 victory over city rival UIC to end a four-game losing streak.
The Ramblers held the lead from late in the first half and throughout the second half at the Gentile Arena.
The Ramblers improved to 14-12 and 4-9 in the Horizon League while the Flames, who won the first meeting Jan. 16 61-59 at the UIC Pavilion, fell to 15-11 and 6-7 in conference play.
The game was as close as four in the second half when the Flames rebounded from a 16-point deficit and trailed 58-54 after a pair of free throws from Josh Crittle.
But Loyola came back with a 9-2 run to rebuild the lead.
Loyola sophomore Christian Thomas led all scorers with a double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Jordan Hicks added 18 points.
UIC was led by sophomore Marc Brown’s 13 points off the bench while senior guard Gary Talton had 10 points and eight assists.
The 1963 Ramblers remain the only Illinois team to win the NCAA national title, their season intertwined with the ongoing racial struggles at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Six players from the team, including stars Jerry Harkness, Les Hunter and John Egan—the lone white starter on the squad—were on hand for the ceremonies.
Loyola played without starting senior forward Ben Averkamp, still suffering from the effects of a concussion, and starting junior point guard Cully Payne, who injured his left hand during last week’s 71-53 loss at Milwaukee.
Returning for the Ramblers was sophomore guard Joe Crisman, who had missed several games with an injured left pinky finger.
Neither team could find the rim in the opening four minutes, going scoreless in the first four minutes until freshman Jeff White made two free throws.
The Ramblers extended their lead to 19-10 on back-to-back three-pointers by Hicks and freshman center Nick Osborne.
UIC got within seven with 5:57 left in the first half on Talton’s layup, but the Ramblers out-scored the Flames 15-10 in the closing five minutes, holding a 36-23 lead at halftime.