Junior guard Marques Townes scored 18 points to help 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago advance to the Elite Eight with a 69-68 victory over seventh-seeded Nevada on Thursday in NCAA Tournament South Region play at Atlanta.
Senior forward Aundre Jackson scored seven of his 15 points in the final three minutes of the Sweet 16 contest as the Ramblers (31-5) won their 13th straight game and 20th in their past 21. Junior point guard Clayton Custer also scored 15 points for Loyola-Chicago, which shot 75 percent from the field in the second half and 55.8 percent overall.
Junior forward Caleb Martin scored 21 points with five rebounds and junior forward Jordan Caroline added 19 and six boards for the Wolf Pack (29-8). Junior forward Cody Martin had 16 points and sophomore guard Josh Hall scored 10 for Nevada, which shot just 41.4 percent from the field.
Loyola-Chicago has won its three NCAA Tournament games this month by a combined four points. The Ramblers will face Kansas State on Saturday with a Final Four berth on the line.
“This is really unbelievable to be in this situation. I’m so thankful to be in this scenario right now,” Custer said in a postgame interview on CBS. “It feels like a dream and we’ll be trying to keep it going as long as possible.”
The score was tied at 59 before Jackson knocked down a 3-pointer with 2:57 left and he added a layup and two free throws to give the Ramblers a 66-63 lead with 41.3 seconds remaining. Cody Martin made two free throws to pull the Wolf Pack within one with 36.1 seconds.
Townes drilled the clutch 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds to go to make it a four-point margin as Loyola-Chicago closed it out.
The Ramblers led by four points at halftime and began the second half in torrid fashion by making their first 13 field-goal attempts.
Loyola-Chicago used an 8-0 burst early in the half to take a 36-26 lead with 17:43 remaining. Custer’s basket exactly one minute later boosted the margin to 40-28.
Custer’s acrobatic reverse layup made the Ramblers 10 of 10 in the half and gave them a 48-38 advantage with 13:03 to play. A reverse layup by Jackson was the 13th and final straight successful field goals to make it a 10-point margin with 10:04 left before the shooting streak ended.
Loyola-Chicago led 57-47 after Custer’s layup with 7:47 left before the Wolf Pack erupted with eight straight points and 12 of 14. Nevada knotted the score at 59 on Cody Martin’s drive through the middle of the Ramblers’ defense with 4:06 remaining.
Loyola-Chicago finished the first half with a 20-4 run to take a 28-24 halftime lead. The Wolf Pack were the team clicking over the first six 1/2 minutes with Caleb Martin’s 3-pointer giving them a 20-8 lead.
—Field Level Media