Ramblers topple No. 21 Dayton at home: 3 Observations

Ramblers topple No. 21 Dayton at home: 3 Observations originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Loyola Ramblers picked up their first ranked win since 2021, defeating twenty-first-ranked Dayton 77-72 in front of an electric arena. The Ramblers now move to 21-8 (13-3 A10) as they receive a massive boost to their NCAA Tournament resume. Here are three observations from the win:

Des vs DaRon

It wasn’t 2016 Golden State versus Cleveland, but Des Watson and Daron Holmes II provided a significant heavyweight match between two stars tonight. Watson led his team to victory, going 4-5 from beyond the arc to finish his day with 24 points, tying his career-high yet again. Watson also contributed four rebounds, along with two assists and two steals.

On the other side of the court, DaRon Holmes put forward an even 20 points, coming up just short of a double double with nine rebounds. The likely Atlantic 10 Player of the Year was a force in the paint, coming up with four blocks, but coughed up the ball six times in the loss.

Turnovers lead the way (for the Ramblers this time)

Defense has always been a trademark in Rambler wins, with the team receiving national recognition for their defensive prowess in recent years. It was no different tonight, as they made it incredibly difficult for the Flyers to hold on to the ball.

After giving up the ball 19 times on Tuesday at St. Bonaventure, the Ramblers rebounded to force 22 by Dayton, while simultaneously only giving up the ball 11 times. The team combined for 15 steals, converting for 20 points off of the turnover.

Ramblers flip script beyond the arc

Three point shooting was one of the factors that limited the Ramblers in the first half, as they only mustered a 29.4 percent effort in the first 20 minutes. Watson led the team going 4-5 in the frame but the shots just weren’t falling as Loyola found themselves down three heading into the break.

The Ramblers improved dramatically in the second half, riding a 6-10 effort to finish the game at 40.7 percent. Braden Norris was a perfect 4-4 from deep, contributing for 19 points to go along with his 11 assist double double.

The Ramblers now hit the road on Wednesday, taking on Davidson for another round at 6 p.m. on ESPN+.