Loyola Chicago still dancing after upsetting Tennessee in NCAA tournament

By Alex Butler  |  March 18, 2018 at 8:20 AM
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March 18 (UPI) -- The Loyola Chicago Ramblers are headed to the Sweet 16 after beating Tennessee in the NCAA men's basketball tournament Saturday in Dallas.

No. 11 Loyola pulled off the 63-62 upset against No. 3 Tennessee at the American Airlines Center. The Ramblers were coming off of a first round victory against No. 6 Miami.

Loyola guard Clayton Custer tossed up a contested jump shot with just 3.6 remaining to give the Ramblers the final lead in the second-round showdown. The attempt bounced high off of the rim and rolled around before the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year watched it fall through the net, while he was sitting on the court.

"Coach put me in a position to make a play at the end and I am very appreciative of that," Custer told reporters after the game. "The only thing I can say is glory to God for that one. That ball bounced up on the rim...the only thing that I could think about after the game was that's all the hard work that you put in to get into a situation like this."

The Volunteers began the game on a 5-0 run and built up a nine-point lead in the first half. But Loyola stormed back, taking a 23-22 lead with five minutes remaining in the first frame. The Ramblers took a 29-25 advantage into the break.

Loyola built up a 10-point lead in the second half, but the game stayed close. Tennessee's Admiral Schofield ended a 2:30 Volunteers scoring drought by hitting a 3-pointer with about 3:49 seconds remaining in the game. The shot cut the Ramblers' lead to seven points. Jordan Bowden then hit another three pointer to cut the lead to six points. Jordan Bone cut the lead to five points with a layup about 30 seconds later.

Volunteers sophomore Lamonte Turner tightened the game even more when he buried a 3-pointer with 1:45 remaining, cutting the Ramblers' lead to two points.

Tennessee forward Grant Williams got a block on the other end, giving the Volunteers a chance to take the lead. Schofield missed a 3-pointer, giving the ball back to the underdogs. But the Ramblers turned the ball over on the next possession.

The Volunteers charged down the court and Williams put in a layup to tie the game at 61-61 with just 20.1 seconds remaining. He was also fouled on the play and made his free throw for the late lead.

Custer came through with his clutch shot on the next possession.

Bone gave the Volunteers their last hope, but his 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back iron.

Senior forward Aundre Jackson scored a game-high 16 points off of the bench, while Custer scored 10 points for Loyola. Schofield scored 14 points -- including four 3-pointers -- for Tennessee.

Loyola faces No. 7 Nevada or No. 2 Cincinnati on Thursday in the Sweet 16 at Philips Arena in Atlanta.

"It's amazing when you have a group of people who believe," Ramblers coach Porter Moser told reporters. "This group is resilient. They believe. We've come back from deficits. We've lost leads. And we've found ways to win games. They just kept believing. This group has been ultra-resilient. I'm blessed to coach them."

"Clay, thank you. It was a great shot."

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