In a game where there was never any breathing room, Loyola Chicago fans can exhale and take a breath as they prepare for the Ramblers’ next game in the NCAA Tournament. Porter Moser’s team edged Miami by the score of 64-62.
Senior Donte Ingram hit a game-winning three-point basket with 0.3 seconds left to send the Ramblers into the Big Dance’s second round. Loyola (29-5) has won eleven straight games.
Ingram, the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament MVP, finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Clayton Custer, the MVC Player of the Year, scored eleven second half points including a three to knot the game at 60 each, and finished with a team-leading 14 points. Aundre Jackson (12) and Cameron Krutwig (11) also reached double figures in scoring.
Loyola was able to come from behind despite seven blocked shots by Miami defenders. Four Hurricanes scored in double figures, including 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks by Dewan Huell. Miami was 8-1 in games decided by five points-or-less prior to Ingram’s late-game heroics.
Moser said his team never gave up, even when it trailed by seven points during the pivotal second half.
“Even when we were down seven, it was just about keep fighting, keep fighting,” gushed the head coach. “There’s no quit in these guys. They believe. They share the ball. We had 19 assists.”
Ingram scored those 13 points despite making just four of 13 shots prior to the game winner, said anyone on the floor was prepared to be the hero.
“Any one of us could have hit that shot, but I was just fortunate enough to be in the position,” said Ingram. “And when I seen the shot and I had space, I was confident, and it went in, luckily.”
Ingram says Moser gave his players two options during the contest’s final seconds.
“If our five man would have got the rebound, we would have called a time-out, explained the Chicago native. “Since a guard got it, you know, Coach just had faith in us and said let’s go. We’re under attack. At that point, it is just up to us to make a play, and luckily we came through with a play.”
Loyola wing Marques Townes says the Ramblers work on end-game situations all the time.
“We go through those situations all the time. Nothing has changed,” shared Townes. “We talk about in the huddle the last four minutes, just give it everything you’ve got and don’t break, don’t break on defense, just stay and execute our plays. We just talk about just never give up. And he just talked about in the huddle, Coach always emphasizes, don’t break, don’t break. These last four minutes, don’t break.”
Loyola moves on to a second round game Saturday with Tennessee. The Volunteers overpowered Wright State by a score of 73-47.