NCAAB: Texas A&M, Loyola Chicago struggle through tough tourney
Something positive will come out of Sunday’s meeting between No. 24 Texas A&M and Loyola Chicago in the seventh-place game in the Myrtle Beach Invitational in Conway, S.C. — one of the teams will finish this tournament with a win.
Neither expected to be playing for also-ran status in this event, especially Texas A&M, which came in ranked and full of swagger and leaves the beach licking its wounds and with more questions than answers.
Texas A&M (2-2) fell into the seventh-place game via a 103-75 loss to Colorado in the consolation semifinal on Friday. The Aggies led 14-12 after an Anderson Garcia layup at the 13:43 mark of the first half before Colorado took charge with a 15-2 run over the ensuing five minutes.
A&M’s deficit eventually grew to as much as 24 points late in the half and the Aggies were down 54-33 at halftime and never made a serious charge throughout the second half.
Hayden Hefner led the Aggies with 13 points while Solomon Washington and Julius Marble added 12 each in the loss, Texas A&M’s second in less than 20 hours.
“I didn’t think our response today to (the loss to Murray State in the first round) would be what it was,” Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “So disappointed. Very embarrassed. Zero competitiveness from start to finish. We got to figure something out. I do not think that we were playing at the level of intensity that you have to play.
“The last 80 minutes we have not been about what we need to be about. It wasn’t in my spirit that this was what was coming.”
Loyola (2-2) is also left picking up the pieces after two losses in two days here, the latest a 70-48 setback versus Boise State on Friday in the other consolation semifinal.
The Ramblers were very much in Friday’s game through a closely contested first half that saw them trailing just 31-26 at the break.
But the wheels came off in the middle of the second half as Boise State reeled off 16 consecutive points over a six-and-a half minute stretch that turned Loyola’s seven-point deficit into a 23-point mountain to climb with just 5:45 remaining.
The Ramblers missed 10 straight shots and had two turnovers in that decisive run.
Philip Alston led the Ramblers with 11 points and Jayden Dawson scored 10 off the bench. Thirteen players saw the court for Loyola in the loss and nine of them scored as coach Drew Valentine tried to find something that would work and stem the tide for his team.
Loyola shot just 32.1 percent from the field and was outrebounded 40-28.
“We just didn’t do things yesterday or today,” Valentine said. “I thought guys went off on their own offensively and defensively. We just looked like a bunch of individuals out there and guys that were just worried about themselves.
“We might not win on Sunday — I’m not guaranteeing a win — but I’m guaranteeing that you’ll see a more connected group.”
–Field Level Media