The NCAA tournament has its first application for Cinderella status, and it was delivered in dramatic fashion.
Eleventh-seeded Loyola defeated No. 6 Miami, 64-62, on a last-second 3-pointer by Donte Ingram.
It was a frantic finish for the Ramblers, who trailed for most of the game but were always within arm’s length of the Hurricanes. That allowed them to take advantage of Miami’s miscues.
Loyola had a chance to tie with 26 seconds remaining, but Marques Townes made just one of two free throws. That, though, gave way to a Lonnie Walker turnover when a Rambler defender went for a steal and deflected the ball off him and out of bounds. That still wasn’t enough as Loyola couldn’t convert on two looks near the bucket.
Walker’s troubles weren’t over, however, as he missed the front-end of a one-and-one on Miami’s ensuing possession, giving the ball back to Loyola with 9 seconds. That was enough time for the Ramblers to jet up the court, find Ingram and score the game-winner.
While undoubtedly an upset, Loyola’s win certainly doesn’t qualify as a fluke. The Ramblers were the Missouri Valley Conference champions riding a 10-game winning streak that kept them perfect since the calendar flipped to February. It’s not even the first team from the Sunshine State that they’ve bested as they knocked off Florida in Gainesville earlier this season.
Clayton Custer, the MVC player of the year and Iowa State transfer, scored 14 points while Ingram added 13. The Ramblers forced 16 Miami turnovers that helped them weather the Hurricanes’ 51 percent shooting afternoon. Miami’s 8 of 13 night from the charity stripe did it no favors either.
It’s a second-straight first-round bow-out for Miami, which started the season 10-0. It was a difficult season in south Florida as the Hurricanes dealt with allegations from the federal probe into college basketball as well as the injury that cost Bruce Brown, Jr., who missed the last 12 games of the season due to a stress fracture in his foot.
Loyola will try to earn a spot in the Sweet 16 on Saturday against No. 3 Tennessee. The Ramblers last reached the tournament’s second weekend in 1985, which was also the last time they were in the field.
They may even have a higher power on their side as they try to score another upset.