For the third time in three games, Loyola used a last-second jumper to continue its miracle tournament run and advance to the Elite Eight, with Marques Townes providing the heroics this time around.
The No. 11 seed Ramblers downed the No. 7 seed Wolf Pack 69-68 Thursday night, overcoming another attempt by the Wolf Pack’s Martin brothers to single-handedly drag their team to the next round. The N.C. State transfers combined for 37 points and 11 rebounds. Loyola was led by Townes, who poured in 18 points, and Aundre Jackson and Custer, who contributed 15 points apiece.
The Ramblers led for the majority of the second half, but as has proved to be the case with both these teams, no lead, not even a 22-point on, is safe. By the final two minutes, it was a one-possession game that would seemingly come down to who had the ball last.
Clayton Custer, who played the hero in the team’s Round of 32 win over Tennessee, brought the ball down the court with the Ramblers leading by one point with 35 seconds remaining. After milking the clock down to 11 seconds, Clayton made his move on Nevada’s Cody Martin, driving right and drawing in Caleb Martin—this left Townes, who was 6-of-26 on three-pointers leading up to this game, briefly open on the wing. After a dribble-step to the left to give him just an inch of fresh air, Townes drained a trey over Caleb’s outstretched hand, giving Loyola a two-possession lead with 6.2 seconds left on the clock.
Nevada tried to stage a third comeback of its own, cutting the lead down to one with 1.6 seconds left, but this time, God, and more importantly, Sister Jean, was on the side of the Ramblers. Loyola will now face the winner of tonight’s Kentucky-Kansas State game in the Elite Eight on Saturday.