Senior Tony Bowne scored 14 points to lead a balanced Central Michigan scoring attack, but it was his four clutch free throws at the end that sealed the 73-69 win against the Ramblers.
"As a senior, I've been there before," Bowne said. "It felt real good. I feel confident that all of us can make our free throws in the clutch."
The Chippewas (5-4, 0-1 MAC) jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, but the Ramblers stormed back for a 31-22 advantage with 3:11 remaining in the first half after an intentional foul was called against Robert Sevalia.
Central Michigan used a 7-2 run to end the half though. Bowne nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to bring the Chippewas back to within four, 33-29.
"I thought Tony's three at the end of the half got us going a bit," said CMU head coach Jay Smith. "We looked like a team that had been off for four days. An ugly win is better than a bad loss."
The Chippewas opened the second half with a 7-0 run and never looked back, building a six-point lead on three occasions.
Joining Bowne in double figures scoring for CMU were Kevin Nelson (12 points), Giordan Watson (11) and Justin Blevins, who started at center and had a career best 10 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.
"If Justin continues to work hard and produce, he's going to play," Smith said.
The loss was the 17th consecutive away from home for Loyola (2-9, 0-1 Horizon League). The Ramblers were led by forward Blake Schilb with 21 points and guard Majak Kou, who added 16.
The Chippewas must now focus on the MAC, beginning with a game at Marshall Sunday, Jan. 2, at 2 p.m. CMU then returns home for four of its next five MAC games, beginning against MAC East favorite Buffalo next Thursday, Jan. 6. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
CMU Holds On to Beat Loyola, 73-69
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