Senior forward Ben Averkamp hit six free throws over the final 33 seconds to help Loyola-Chicago hold off Valparaiso 63-54 Wednesday night in the Horizon Conference basketball opener for both teams.
The visiting Ramblers (10-3, 1-0) won their fourth game in a row and for the eighth time in their last nine outings. They already have three more victories than they had all of last season.
The Crusaders (10-5, 0-1), who were coming off an impressive road win at Murray State, saw their winning streak snapped at three games.
The Ramblers led 26-24 at the half and held the lead throughout the second half but were never able to put away the Crusaders until Averkamp's efforts at the stripe in the final minute.
Averkamp wound up with 16 points to lead Loyola. Christian Thomas added 14 and Cully Payne 13.
Ryan Broekhoff led Valpo with 15 points.