Golden Eagles trim Loyola Ramblers, 74-69, in home opener

Golden Eagles trim Loyola Ramblers, 74-69, in home opener

By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It took Jeremiah Samarrippas nearly 39 minutes to get his first assist of the game, but he couldn't have picked a better time.

His bounce pass inside to Dennis Ogbe led to a three-point play by the Senior Class Award nominee, and proved to be the difference in a nail-biter as Tennessee Tech squeaked out a 74-69 victory Tuesday night over Loyola Chicago in Eblen Center.

Clinging to a one-point lead after erasing a 12-point deficit, Ogbe's layup and free throw with 1:14 to play made it 73-69. Jordan Johnson added one free throw with 22 seconds to go for the final margin as Loyola misfired on a couple of 3-point tries.

It was a night when Tech (1-1) celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the 1962-63 Tech team (photo below left) that won the OVC championship and played this same Loyola in the NCAA Tournament. When the final horn sounded, the current Golden Eagles continued the celebration in the dressing room after winning their home opener.

Ogbe topped Tech with 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting and grabbed a game-best nine rebounds, one of four players to net double figures in the scoring column. Ladon Carter added 12 points, also hitting 6-for-7 from the field, and pulled down seven rebounds. Ty Allen, the top scorer in the OVC, chipped in 11 and Samarrippas finished with 10 points. Eleven of the 12 Tech players who saw the court scored.

Loyola (1-1) got big scoring nights from three players, led by Milton Doyle's 23 who was 4-for-7 from long range. Christian Thomas added 18 and Jeff White finished with 12.  

Nothing much was settled through the first 20 minutes of play, and the teams headed into the break tied at 32-32. Tech led for most of the opening half, with the score tied four times and the lead changing hands six times. The Golden Eagles led y as many as seven, 19-12, midway through.

Loyola was on fire from long range to open the second half, with Doyle, Joe Crisman, Doyle again, and White all raining down 3-pointers. Doyle's third straight bomb with 15:26 to play pushed the Ramblers to a 51-39 lead, the largest difference in the game.

Carter scored back-to-back baskets and Matt Marseille added another as the Golden Eagles began whittling away at the deficit.  Tech finally tied the game at 56-56 with 9:12 to play on a jumper by Ty Allen.

The score was tied four more times in the next three minutes before a free throw by Allen with 5:45 put Tech ahead to stay.  Loyola kept it close, pulling to within one point, 70-69, with 1:32 left on a layup from Thomas, and setting the stage for Ogbe's deciding play.   

Loyola shot 51.1 percent from the field (23-for-45) and 47.4 percent (9-for-19) from the arc. The Ramblers were 14-for-23 from the charity stripe for 60.9 percent.

Tech shot 48.2 percent from the field (27-for-56), including 50 percent in the second half. The Golden Eagles were 5-for-16 from 3-point range and 15-for-24 (62.5 percent) from the free throw line. Tech owned a 39-25 advantage on the glass, including a 15-4 margin in offensive rebounds.

The Golden Eagles head to Texas this weekend for three games in Corpus Christi in the Holiday Inn Downtown Marina Islanders Tournament. Tech meets Texas-Pan American on Friday, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Saturday, and closes against IPFW on Sunday.

All of the games can be heard on the Golden Eagle Sports Network, with Dylan Vazzano courtside to call the action.