ST. LOUIS - Even with an impressive regular season where they were the top of the class in the Missouri Valley Conference, only three wins in St. Louis would bring the Loyola men's basketball team the ultimate prize: a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Now a trio of victories in St. Louis this weekend have Loyola dusting off their dancing shoes for the first time in three decades.
The top-seeded Ramblers were a step ahead of in-state rival and third-seeded Illinois State Sunday afternoon at the Scottrade Center, winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title game 65-49 to snag the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
It's the first time the Ramblers have been in the "Big Dance" since the 1985 season and marks just the sixth time in program history they've qualified for Division 1's premiere postseason tournament. Loyola also made the tournament in 1964, 1966, 1968 and1985, and even went on to win the National Championship in 1963.
With the victory, Porter Moser's team improves to 28-5 on the season and will learn where they sit on the NCAA Tournament bracket when its announced on March 11.
Donte Ingram led the Ramblers with 18 points, with freshman Cameron Krutwig adding 11. The Ramblers led by nine at the half, and then busted open in the final 20 minutes, using a 15-4 run to start the second half to put distance between themselves and the Redbirds for the tournament-clinching victory.