Set Your Watch to Loyola-Chicago’s Late-Game Heroics

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 22:  Marques Townes #5 of the Loyola Ramblers reacts after making a late three point basket in the second half against the Nevada Wolf Pack during the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at Philips Arena on March 22, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
It was Marques Townes’ turn to hit the big shot against Nevada.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers don’t do small shots. In the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the No. 11 seed Ramblers beat Miami on a last-second 3-pointer. Against Tennessee, a desperation fallaway jumper was enough to send them to the Sweet 16. Against the Nevada Wolf Pack on Thursday, they did it yet again.

Unlike in their previous tournament games, the Ramblers were actually winning when they hit their big shot. Marques Townes’ huge step-back jumper gave Loyola-Chicago a four-point lead with six seconds remaining, and they needed each and every one of those points as the Wolf Pack immediately responded with a 3-pointer of their own.

It was a see-saw affair, and somehow Nevada put itself in a position to sneak a win after allowing the Ramblers to hit their first 13 shots of the second half. Of course, Loyola-Chicago has a penchant for close games, and the nail-biting finish was a comfortable bout of déjà vu for the Ramblers, who held on to win, 69-68.

Not everyone wearing Ramblers colors had a winning night, however. Sister Jean Delores Schmidt, the team’s 98-year-old chaplain, had penciled her team in as Sweet 16 losers in her bracket before the tournament started.

It was a rare miscalculation for Sister Jean, but she doesn’t mind. Her Ramblers will face the winner of Kansas State-Kentucky in the Elite Eight on Saturday.