MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The top-seeded Loyola Wolf Pack men’s basketball team left no doubts about which team was the best in the Southern States Athletic Conference, defeating No. 2-seeded Faulkner, 82-73, Saturday in the SSAC Championship final. Despite defeating the Eagles twice during the regular season, the two teams finished the season tied atop the league standings, but the Wolf Pack claimed their second straight tournament title with the third win over their league foes. 

Next up for the Pack is the NAIA National Championship Opening Round, as Loyola was  announced as a host for the tournament that takes place March 7-8 in The Den. The rest of the field will be announced on Thursday at 6 p.m. 

Jalen Galloway powered Loyola to a 36-30 halftime lead with 15 first-half points, and most of his points came in the final seven minutes of the half. After Michael Harden got Loyola’s first points, Milan Mejia made a 3-pointer before Galloway got his first points, 7-3, then two free throws by Matthew Mondesir push the advantage to 9-3 through the first two and a half minutes of the game. Alex Hammond made it five Wolf Pack players with points after that, 11-5, but Faulkner would eventually tie the game, 13-13, with 11 minutes until halftime. 

With the Wolf Pack trailing by two, 17-15, near the eight-minute mark, Galloway started to score in bunches. He tied the game at 17 before giving the Pack the 21-20 lead, then he scored two more times to make it a 25-20 lead with four minutes left in the half. After two Eagle free throws, Galloway hit a 3, 28-22, before Mejia’s second 3 of the half, 33-26, under two minutes. Galloway scored one more time before the game went into the break. 

Faulkner scored the first two field goals of the second half to cut the score to two, then it tied the game, 38-38, three minutes into the period. Mondesir had four quick points to quell the Eagles’ scoring a bit with the second-made shot propelling the Wolf Pack to a 9-0 run that ended with a Bradley Alcime 3-pointer, 47-38. Again, the Eagles made a push to get back close, making it a 51-47 game at the 10:33 mark, and they kept it a four-point game with less than eight minutes left, 58-54. 

A Mejia triple put the Pack back up seven, 61-54, but Faulkner, again, made a run to cut it to a two-point contest twice around the six-minute mark, 63-61. Galloway got his first field goal of the second half moments later, 65-61, and Harden answered an Eagle 3-pointer with one of his own, 70-64. From there, Loyola kept it a multi-possession lead, as it made 10 free throws in the final three minutes to keep Faulkner at bay.  

Tournament Schedule

Wednesday, Feb. 22 at the Multiplex
Game 2: #8 Middle Georgia def. #9 Talladega def. , 64-51
Game 4: #7 Life def. #10 Brewton-Parker, 86-77

Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Multiplex
Game 6: #5 Stillman def. #4 Dalton State, 66-61
Game 8: #1 Loyola def. #8 Middle Georgia, 69-54
Game 10: #2 Faulkner def. #7 Life, 83-81
Game 12: #6 Blue Mountain def. #3 Mobile, 62-61

Friday, Feb. 24 at the Multiplex
Game 14: #1 Loyola def. #5 Stillman, 70-63
Game 16: #2 Faulkner def. #6 Blue Mountain, 82-70

Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Multiplex:
Championship: #1 Loyola def. #2 Faulkner, 82-73

Pack Facts

  • The Wolf Pack’s 24 wins so far this season are tied for second-most in a season in program history with the 1945 Loyola National Championship team that went 24-6. 
  • This is Loyola’s third SSAC tournament title. The Wolf Pack also won in 2019 and 2022. 
  • Jalen Galloway, who was 8-of-14 from the floor, collected his seventh double-double of the season after having 19 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. He added three assists and two blocks. 
  • Galloway, who is averaging just under 18 points per game, has scored a total of 518 through 29 games. Heading into the upcoming NAIA National Championship, he currently has the 18th-most points in a season in Loyola history. 
  • Michael Harden also poured in 19 points in the championship game with a game-high four assists, going 2-of-3 from distance. 
  • Matthew Mondesir finished with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal, making a game-high seven free throws.
  • Mondesir and Galloway both scored in double figures in each game of the tournament. 
  • Zach Muller and Milan Mejia each had 11 points, making it five different players in double-digit scoring for the Pack. 

{Courtesy: Loyola Athletics}