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Hall of Fame inspired, unranked Loyola stuns #17 DePaul

Sam Lambrigtsen and the Unranked Loyola Ramblers surprised no. 16 DePaul with 88-75 win Monday afternoon.

Steve Woltmann/Loyola Athletics

Chicago, IL -- No. 17 DePaul hoped to enter their holiday break with a win but were surprised by the unranked Loyola Ramblers on Monday 88-75.

After adding a marquee win to its resume on Saturday versus the no. 12 Northwestern Wildcats, the Blue Demons added one of those dreaded "notable losses" to their record.

The Ramblers were able to stifle the high-octane offense of DePaul to earn just its third win of the season and its first win over the Blue Demons in 21 games.

"We put ourselves in position to win the game early and then let (Loyola) come back," Blue Demon head coach Doug Bruno said. "We let them believe they could win, and once you have a team that believes it can win, they usually do."

The Blue Demons held an early 11-2 lead in the first quarter. Yet as the game progressed it became evident who the hungrier, the more determined team was.

DePaul knows how to play up to their competition, but they weren't prepared mentally for Loyola to come out and play with such aggression before the holiday break.

Bruno's squad was amazed early in the second quarter when Loyola guard Sam Lambrigtsen single-handedly shot the Ramblers back into the game. The Oregon, Il native helped key an 11-0 run that would give the Ramblers a lead they would never relinquish.

Lambrigtsen scored 17 points in the first half and finished the game with 21 points (shooting 4-8 from three).

Loyola struggled early but found their groove offensively behind Lambrigtsen in the second quarter. Head coach Sheryl Swoopes squad had two 11-0 runs that rattled the Blue Demons as they managed just 8 points in the second quarter.

DePaul has been trying to prove to the nation it's a team to be reckoned with all season long. In the third quarter, the Blue Demons up-tempo offense countered the Rambler defense with 15 points in the first 6 minutes.

Even though the Blue Demons were able to get within 4 points, their defense was no match for a determined Loyola team.

The Ramblers managed to sustain a balanced scoring attack all game and had four players score in double-figures. Lambrigtsen carried the Ramblers offensively in the first half but was kept quiet in the second.

Loyola guard Taylor Johnson took the reigns offensively in the second half. The Frankfort, Il native finished the game with a game-high 24 points and 8 assists.

"Loyola might be the best 2-7 team in the country," Bruno said. "We put ourselves in a position to have a great December and canceled it out by not getting the job done twice this week."

DePaul is 2-2 during its last four games with wins over then-no. 15 Texas A&M and no. 12 Northwestern. Their losses were to a feisty-South Dakota State team and Loyola.

With its loss against the Ramblers, the Blue Demons finished their non-conference portion of their schedule and will begin Big East play after the holiday break.