Junior guard Des Watson scored 18 points against his old team, leading the Loyola Ramblers (15-7, 7-2 A10) to a 76-63 win over the Davidson Wildcats (12-9, 2-6 A10) at Gentile Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Watson was held to just three points in the first half and took an aggressive approach against his old team. He said that head coach Drew Valentine told him to “settle down” during the first media timeout and that the team has “got his back.”
“When he told me that, everything went out the window,” he said in his post-game interview with the Rambler Sports Network. “It’s just another game, and let everything come to you.”
Watson exploded for 15 points in the final 20 – highlighted by a five of eight clip from three-point land. He also spread the love with a career high six assists.
Both defenses went blow-for-blow in the first half and neither team seemed to gain an upper hand. The Ramblers led 34-29 before they rained an onslaught of three-pointers out of the break.
In total, they hit 14 shots from beyond the arc and scored 42 points in the second half to capture their fifth win in six games.
The Cats trailed by double digits for a significant portion of the second frame and did not have much scoring help. Loyola also held them to under 40% on field-goal shooting all afternoon. They became the number-one defense inside the arc per KenPom and @ramblermania on Twitter.
Graduate guard Grant Huffman and sophomore forward Reed Bailey each had 23 points – accounting for nearly 75% of Davidson’s total points.
The Ramblers, on the other hand, had four players in double figures. 31 of their 76 points came off of the bench, thanks to strong performances from Jalen Quinn, Greg Dolan and Dame Adelekun.
Loyola head coach Drew Valentine said that he was pleased that the team continued to execute at a high level, and, as he praises, remain committed to the culture.
“When we play Loyola basketball on both sides of the floor, grit, toughness, communication on the defensive end and then unselfishness, confidence, swagger offensively [with] pace, tempo, that’s when we are who we are,” he said.
It should also be noted that guard Jayden Dawson (ankle) was unavailable for the second straight contest. Valentine said that, unless there is a setback, his trajectory is “pretty positive” towards playing Wednesday night at GMU.
If he can’t go, it will likely be Sheldon Edwards Jr. slotting into the two-spot.
Wednesday’s tip-off is set for 6 pm CST and will be broadcast on ESPN+.