by Luke Stanczyk
In their first real game action of the season, the Benedictine Eagles were beaten by the Loyola University-Chicago Ramblers 84-44 on Saturday.
Benedictine competed early on, as they were within four through the game’s first seven minutes. However, the Ramblers would go on a huge run for the rest of the first half and led 47-22 at halftime.
The second half was not too much different, as Loyola controlled the game. They outscored BenU 37-22 on their way to the 84-44 victory.
“When you play a Division I school, if you don’t play at a high level, you are going to get beat pretty good,” said Head Coach Keith Bunkenburg.
The Eagles were without senior point guard Nate Green, who was nursing an injury. Replacing the All-NAC guard was junior Jamison Montgomery, who led the team with 10 points, three assists, and 26 minutes played.
“I wish the outcome was a little better, but hopefully next game we’ll get them,” Montgomery stated.
With Green out and four seniors lost from last season, the only Eagles player in Saturday’s game that averaged more than ten minutes per game the previous year was guard Dario Jokic.
“We played a lot of guys tonight,” explained Bunkenbug, who played fifteen players. “We are taking a look at personnel and we are trying to find the right combination. We’ll get in a starting five and a rotation hopefully by Knox.”
“Obviously we wanted to compete and wanted to win, but our inexperience really showed,” Bunkenburg added. “We have a lot of kids that haven’t played college basketball. For our kids who have not played in college, this was a little bit of an eye-opener.”
One of the new players who seemed to respond well was freshman point guard Justin Johnson, as he scored five points in seven minutes of action. Four of those points came on drives to the hoop.
“I thought I should take it to the basket and go to my strength because I think I’m very quick,” Johnson explained.
Overall, the consensus amongst the Eagles is that this game can be used as a tool to prepare them for the future.
“For us to play at a really high level, we’re going to have to compete against some teams that have this kind of size and this kind of quickness,” explained Bunkenburg. “So, for us to see this type of size and quickness, it was a good experience. I hope we take away that we really have to play much harder.”
“It was a good experience, especially playing a Division I [school],” said Jokic. “We lost, but we are taking a lot from this game.
This was the first time the Eagles faced Loyola since falling to them in 2004 and the first time they faced a Division I school since they lost to Northwestern in 2007. Saturday’s game took place in the Halas Sports Center, as Loyola’s main gym, the Gentile Center, is undergoing renovations.
BenU’s first regular season game is on Tuesday, November 15th at the Rice Center against Knox College at 7 p.m.
“[If we] keep working hard, keep playing hard, keep running through the things that we need to do, and I think we’ll be OK,” Montgomery said.