(New Orleans, La.) – It was an emotional night for three of the members of the Loyola University men’s basketball team. Not only was the team hosting its final home game of the regular season, it would be the final time seniors Jalen Gray, Johnny Griffin Jr. and Nate Pierre would take the hardwood at First NBC Court.
The team was also looking to extend its four-game winning streak to five with a conference matchup against the Martin Methodist Redhawks on Monday night.
The Wolf Pack used five players in double figures, including two monstrous double-doubles from Pierre and Griffin Jr. to take down Martin Methodist 80-74. With the victory, the team improves to 19-8 overall and 12-6 in conference play this season.
Pierre made his statement on the glass from the opening tip, collecting an offensive rebound off the miss from Gray and sticking it back up for the first two points of the contest (2-0).
The game was knotted at 6-6 at the 15:24 mark of the ballgame. Loyola responded with a 7-0 run over the next minute, capped off by a layup by Nick Parker to put the home team on top 13-6 with 14:16 to play in the first half.
Both teams managed to tie the ballgame once again (19-19) with 8:03 left in the opening frame. Neither team would score from the field over the next three minutes until a layup on the break by Tre’Von Jasmine broke the drought and put Loyola on top 21-19.
The Redhawks answered back with a three by Caleb Chowbay to retake the lead at 22-19 with 4:29 to play before intermission.
Buckets by Trey LaForge and Jasmine sparked a quick 6-0 run by the home team to go on top by five (27-22) in the final 2:06 of the half.
Griffin Jr. had his hands in the Wolf Pack’s final four points of the period, giving his team the 31-27 edge heading into the locker room.
The team shot 12-of-30 from the floor (40%) but struggled from beyond the arc in the first half going 0-of-9 in the first 20 minutes.
Jasmine led the Wolf Pack with eight points off the bench and Pierre added seven points for the home team.
Griffin Jr. and Jasmine scored the team’s first eight points of the second half to put Loyola up on Martin Methodist 39-36 at the 15:56 mark of the second half.
A layup by Redhawk’s Toderick Davis layup plus the foul squared the game at 41 all over the next minute of play. The road team would go on to take the slim lead at 43-41 off the jumpshot by Broderick Davis at the 14:35 mark of the contest.
Over the next eight minutes of play, the Wolf Pack went on to outscore the Redhawks 26-13 taking their largest lead of the game at 13 (69-56) with 6:03 to play.
But the Redhawks would not go away as they responded with a 13-3 run of their own to cut the lead to three at 72-69 with 3:01 left in the game.
The road team’s fate was eventually sealed as Griffin Jr. finished off a layup on the fastbreak off the dish from Parker, putting the home team up 78-71.
The Wolf Pack went on to claim the 80-74 win over the Redhawks in the final home game of the season.
The team shot 29-of-61 from the field (47.5%) and connected on 19-of-22 (86.4%) free throws in Monday night’s win.
The seniors did not disappoint in their final game of the season, as Griffin Jr. led the team with 19 points and collected 12 rebounds. Pierre added 17 points, 15 rebounds and two rejections, while Gray added 12 points, five rebounds and three assists in his final home game.
Loyola will hit the road for its final two games of the season, first with a matchup with William Carey University on Feb. 23. Thursday night’s game is set to tip-off at 7:30 p.m. from Hattiesburg, MS.