Clayton Custer scored 20 points and Cameron Krutwig 18 and Loyola turned back Valparaiso 80-71 on Wednesday night at Gentile Arena for its fourth straight win.
Donte Ingram added 16 points for the Ramblers (22-5, 12-3 Missouri Valley Conference), including four free throws in the final minute. They have a two-game lead with three to play to win their first title since 1987 when they were in the Horizon League.
Tevonn Walked had 18 points for the Crusaders (13-15, 4-11), who missed three straight shots after Walker’s 3-point play with 1:28 left made it 74-69.
Loyola led 28-21 at the half and shot 61 percent (17 of 28) from the field and went 15 of 19 from the foul line in the second half. But Valpo, which lost the first meeting at home 70-54, shot 58 percent (18 of 31) and went 11 of 11 from the foul line in the second half.