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Game Recap: Loyola of Chicago vs. Milwaukee

Loyola had to put the right pieces together at the right time, and they were helped by their main builder, Jeff White, in its win over former conference foe Milwaukee.


Bear with me here. I am old. A lot of you will have little idea of what I am talking about.

There was a time when I used to play a lot of Tetris, and at one point, I got pretty good at it. It was a matter of learning how to play when things got rough. And there were a lot of times when I was playing that things got rough.

I used to be the kind of player that would build and build and build and wait for that one long straight piece and then the next to bang out tetris after tetris.

Basketball can kind of be that way sometimes. You have these long stretches where it seems you are just building and waiting for that big moment. That building is what makes it possible, and for Loyola on Friday night, Jeff White was the ultimate carpenter.

He quietly rolled to a 23-point performance, a career high that helped to lead the team to a 76-72 win over former Horizon League rival Milwaukee.

It was White's stability that Loyola stay in this one. He didn't hit the flashy shots (that would be Milton Doyle), or the big threes (that would be Devon Turk and oh, Doyle again). But he was just sitting there driving for shot after shot.

You need that kind of player, just like you need the odd zig-zag pieces, or the "L"s, the pieces that help you to get the big tetris and score the big points. You can't live and die by the long piece alone. You have to plod along for a little while sometimes.

Loyola coach Porter Moser called him the quarterback of the team, but also called this the quintessential team effort.

It is no wonder why. He got his flashy long pieces.

With ten minutes remaining in the game, Turk hit two big threes to first tie the game, and then take a one-point advantage.

Doyle, playing his first Division 1 game in front of his hometown crowd, came to life in the second half and scored all 18 of his points.

You will still have times when the game is trying, like when you go what seems like hours without that big moment.

For Loyola, those trying times came anytime a player other than White stepped to the free throw line. Without tonight's star, the team was just 10-for-22 from the line.

"We do this free throw drill in practice," said White who was a perfect 11-for-11 at the stripe. "Every time we miss he makes us do this running drill, so I am pretty sure he is going to make us run a lot."

Milwaukee also held a major size advantage over the Ramblers after Nick Osborne was diagnosed with a concussion on Tuesday, and Matt O'Leary picked up his second foul a little more than 2 minutes into the game. That led to guard Joe Crisman needing to guard one of the two giants in the middle for the Panthers at times.

But strangely, Milwaukee didn't take the advantage when it had it. Sure Matt Tiby (21 points) and Kyle Kelm (13) led Milwaukee in scoring, but Loyola managed to keep the Panthers shooting outside, instead of letting them continue to pound inside the paint. Going small in this case helped pressure Milwaukee into 18 turnovers, nine of them steals by the Ramblers, which Loyola turned into 23 points.

Trying games like this -- ones that almost get away in the final seconds -- are the kind of games that build good teams, teams that have the resiliance to wait and wait and wait for that big flash.

This is the kind of game that a team like a Loyola, a team that is really, really young, needs to get to that next level.

And it is the kind of game that Milwaukee would probably rather forget, especially after being called for 24 fouls, including one on a loose ball in the final minutes that essentially iced the game for the Ramblers (they actually hit some free throws that time).

And so they will keep building, with White leading the way, and probably heading for a good deal more career nights before this season is through, given his performance Friday.