Final Four: Here's every Loyola Chicago game-winning shot in its Cinderella run
Loyola Chicago has advanced to the Elite Eight after three upsets in a row, each capped off by a game-winner in the closing seconds of the game. NCAA.com went inside the Ramblers' latest buzzer beater against Nevada in the Sweet 16, but here we have compiled every game-winner with analysis of which player hit the shot, who made the key pass, what could've gone wrong and what didn't.
Round 1: Loyola Chicago vs. Miami
From Sister Jean's pregame speech to Donte Ingram's buzzer beater, Loyola's opening-round win was even more amazing behind the scenes. pic.twitter.com/KZ1Xmh7QFl— March Madness TV (@MarchMadnessTV) March 17, 2018
Who made the shot: Donte Ingram
Who made the key pass: Marques Townes
What could have gone wrong: Well, almost everything. Miami's Lonnie Walker IV, a 75 percent free throw shooter on the season, stepped to the free throw line for a one-and-one with 9.3 seconds left. Miami led 62-61. If he had made both free throws, the best case for Loyola Chicago likely would've been forcing overtime. Instead, he missed the first free throw attempt. It was actually a solid free throw attempt that somehow rimmed out after six or seven bounces on the rim.
Ironically, Ingram was positioned on the lower block for the free throw, where the ball fell. He actually jumped a little too early and was unable to grab the rebound. The ball was deflected as he and Miami's Sam Waardenburg fought for the rebound and Ben Richardson came down with the rebound. Richardson passed to Townes, who pushed the ball across halfcourt. He ran into a double team from Miami's Ja'Quan Newton and Walker. Had he continued dribbling, he could have gotten trapped, possibly resulting in a turnover or a forcing a bad shot.
Townes passed the ball back to Ingram, who caught it while standing on the March Madness logo at halfcourt. He immediately fired a 3-pointer from about 26 feet away from the rim, which is never a high-percentage shot at the college level, especially in a pressure-packed end-of-game situation.
What didn’t go wrong: Most simply, Ingram's 3-pointer went in. But just as importantly, Walker's trip to the free throw line ended with zero points for Miami and a rebound for Loyola Chicago. It actually helped that Walker's free throw attempt bounced multiple times on the rim and that Townes was forced to pass the ball because it took more time off the clock. If Loyola Chicago had scored with more time left on the clock, there's a chance Miami could have had enough time to setup up its own game-winner.
What Sister Jean said: "We knew we would do it and when we were in the locker room ahead of the game and we just knew that we would do this. Our team is so great and they don't care who makes the points as long as we win the game. I said, "We want to get the big W up there,' and we did."
What they said: Donte Ingram: "It was a great feeling. I thank Marques for making that pass. Any one of us could have hit that shot, but I was just fortunate enough to be in the position. And when I seen the shot and I had space, I was confident, and it went in, luckily."
Round 2: Loyola Chicago vs. Tennessee
Who made the shot: Clayton Custer
Who set the key screen: Cameron Krutwig ran to set a screen for Custer but instead slipped and ran to the rim.
What could have gone wrong: Almost any other bounce on Custer's jumper could have ended the Ramblers' season. Similar to how Loyola Chicago got a friendly bounce, or five, on Lonnie Walker IV's free throw attempt in the first round, the Ramblers benefited from a shooter's touch to knock off Tennessee. Custer's shot was far from a great look – it was an off-balance jumper against solid defense and he was never truly squared towards the basket.
Perhaps the most dangerous part of Custer's game-winner was that it left 3.6 seconds on the clock for Tennessee, which was more than enough time for the Volunteers to get down the floor and get off a decent look. Tennessee's Jordan Bone was able to catch the ball near midcourt, take three dribbles and attempt a 3-pointer before the final buzzer sounded. Townes and Richardson were both in the area to put pressure on Bone but all in all, it was about as good of a look as Tennessee could have imagined. Bone, a 38 percent 3-point shooter, missed off the back of the rim.
What didn’t go wrong: Custer's improbable jumper fell and despite Loyola Chicago not defending Tennessee's inbounds pass or Bone, the Ramblers were able to put enough pressure on Bone that his final 3-oint attempt wasn't a clean look.
What Sister Jean said to Loyola Chicago before the game: "Don't let those Tennessee team members scare you with their height. Height doesn't mean that much. You're good jumpers, you're good rebounders, you're good at everything, and just keep that in mind."
What they said: Clayton Custer: "The ball bounced up on the rim, and I got a good bounce like that. But the only thing I could think about after the game is that that's all the hard work that I put -- like that you put in to get in a situation like this, and all those hours, those waking up early in the morning and working out. For all that hard work to come up to that lucky bounce is worth it, and I think all the hard work, the basketball gods helped that one go in, and I'm just super blessed to be in this situation right now."
Round 3: Loyola Chicago vs. Nevada
Who made the shot: Marques Townes
Who set the key screen: Aundre Jackson, or at least that was the plan. Assistant coach Bryan Mullins said Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser drew up a high ball screen for Custer but he refused it. Instead, Custer crossed over, got downhill, drew a second defender and found Marques Townes open in the corner.
Who made the key pass: Clayton Custer
What could have gone wrong: If Custer had tried to take another game-winning shot, electing to drive to the rim instead of passing to Townes, he would have been trapped between Cody and Caleb Martin, who are both much bigger than him – listed at 6-7, 205 pounds. Or, if Townes hadn't shot faked and instead rushed a 3-pointer with Caleb Martin flying at him, he could have missed.
The game wasn't over when Townes made the 3-pointer. There were still 6.2 seconds left and Caleb Martin hit a 3-pointer to cut Loyola Chicago's lead to one. The Ramblers could have choked in the final seconds and committed a costly turnover, allowing Nevada to attempt a game-winner of their own.
What didn’t go wrong: Even though Custer didn't use the screen and Moser had drawn up, he was still able to get downhill, get the defense to collapse around him and find the open man. Townes didn't rush his shot, instead choosing to utilize a shot fake to create space for a wide-open look. Then, Loyola Chicago was able to inbound the ball, avoiding a five-second call, and draw fouls on Nevada to run out the clock.
What Sister Jean said after the game: "Well I already told them as they came off the court, great game and Clayton said, 'We broke your bracket, Sister Jean.' I said, 'I don't care that you broke my bracket. I'm ready for the next one,' and so I believe they are. This is a great feat for us."
What they said: Marques Townes: "I'll probably remember it for the rest of my life. I mean, it doesn't really get any better than that. Clay made a great play, got downhill, kicked me to the corner. The guy came flying at me, I just gave him a little shot fake, and I shot it, and it went in. It was just – that's something you dream about. You're in the Sweet 16 and you hit a big shot like that. It's just amazing. I'm just blessed to be in that position."