Guard Jeff White scored a career-high 23 points and guard Milton Doyle added 18 as Loyola-Chicago beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee 76-72 in a season opener for both teams on Friday night at Gentile Arena in Chicago.
Guard-forward Christian Thomas added 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Ramblers (1-0). Forward Matt Tiby had 21 points to lead a balanced Wisconsin-Milwaukee attack.
Milwaukee (0-1) cut the Loyola lead to 74-72 on forward Kyle Kelm's layup with 14 seconds left in regulation. White restored a four-point edge a second later when he was fouled and hit two free throws.
Kelm finished with 13 points for the Panthers. Forward Austin Arians and guard Thierno Niang added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
White gave Loyola the lead for good at 59-57 with 7:53 to play when he hit two free throws.
White also scored on a layup with six seconds left in the opening 20 minutes as the Ramblers forced a 28-28 halftime tie.
Tiby topped the Panthers with 10 first-half points and six rebounds.
Loyola opened a 36-30 lead as it forced four turnovers and outscored Milwaukee 8-2 in the first 3:30 of the second half. The Panthers replied with eight straight to take a 38-36 advantage.
The score was tied six times in the second half until White's go-ahead free throws.
The Ramblers, 15-16 last year, open their first Missouri Valley season in January. The Panthers were 8-14 overall in 2012-13 and split two meetings with Loyola.
Milwaukee still leads the all-time series 29-22.
The Panthers resume play on Monday at Davidson and the Ramblers travel to Tennessee Tech on Tuesday.