In a physical game, No. 11 seed Loyola defeated No. 3 seed University of Tennessee 63-62 to advance to its first Sweet Sixteen since 1985 after redshirt junior Clayton Custer nailed a jumper with 3.5 seconds left to win the game.
“Coach put me in a position to make a play at the end, and I’m very appreciative of that,” Custer said. “I mean, the only thing I can say is glory to God for that one.”
It was a back-and-forth game and Loyola took a 29-25 lead into halftime. The Ramblers went in 20-0 when leading at the break. Although Tennessee outscored Loyola 37-34 in the second half, Loyola out-rebounded the Volunteers and drew 10 fouls after halftime.
Senior guard Ben Richardson, Custer’s life-long best friend, said he had a feeling Custer would make the shot because they had both practiced it since they were kids.
“It’s fitting that he hits a big shot going one-two-pull-up like we’ve been doing in the gym for our whole lives working on that shot,” Richardson said. “I’m so happy for him in this moment. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Senior forward Aundre Jackson added 16 points in the effort on 5-for-7 shooting and 6-for-6 shooting from the free-throw line.
The Ramblers are scheduled to head to Atlanta for the Sweet Sixteen March 22. They will play the winner of the University of Nevada and University of Cincinnati, which is scheduled for March 18 in Nashville.