Junior guard Clayton Custer connected on the game-winning shot with 3.6 seconds left as 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago pulled off its second straight upset, topping No. 3 Tennessee 63-62 on Saturday at American Airlines Center in Dallas to reach the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time since 1985.
Custer’s 12-foot shot bounced off the rim, touched off the backboard and dropped through the net as the Ramblers (30-5) won their 12th consecutive game. Senior forward Aundre Jackson scored 16 points and Custer scored 10 as Loyola-Chicago set a program record for victories in a season.
“The ball hit the front of rim and popped up in the air,” Custer said in a postgame television interview on TNT. “I think that is just all the years of hard work coming into one play. ... To get that bounce on that shot, it makes all those hours in the gym worth it. I cannot believe that just happened.”
Tennessee sophomore guard Jordan Bone had a chance to give his team the win but his shot bounced off the back of the rim as time expired.
Junior forward Admiral Schofield scored 14 points and Bone had 13 for the Volunteers (26-9). Sophomore forward Grant Williams added 12 points and sophomore guard Lamonte Turner had 10.
Loyola-Chicago, which upset Miami (Fla.) at the buzzer in the first round of the South Regional, will face either Nevada or Cincinnati in the Sweet 16.
Williams converted a go-ahead three-point play with 20.1 seconds remaining to give the Volunteers a 62-61 lead prior to Custer’s memorable shot.
Loyola-Chicago shot 50 percent from the field. The Volunteers shot 45.5 percent.
The Ramblers led 38-29 with 17 minutes remaining after Custer and senior guard Donte Ingram knocked down 3-pointers.
Tennessee trimmed its deficit to 40-39 on a 3-pointer by Turner with 12:55 to go but Loyola-Chicago whipped up a 10-2 surge. Freshman guard Lucas Williamson and sophomore guard Bruno Skokna hit 3-pointers during the run as the Ramblers made it 50-41 with 10:01 to play.
Volunteers senior guard James Daniel III knocked down a 3-pointer to halt the momentum and Bone’s jumper moved Tennessee within 53-48 with 6:24 to play. But Loyola-Chicago answered with five straight points with Jackson’s layup making it a 10-point margin with 4:04 to play.
Schofield drained a 3-pointer for his first points in 31:45 to get the Volunteers back within 58-51 with 3:53 remaining. His shot jump-started an 14-3 surge that saw Tennessee take its only lead of the second half.
Jackson scored 10 first-half points as Loyola-Chicago led 29-25 at the break.
—Field Level Media