ATLANTA -- No matter what, some team would have to blink by the end of Thursday night.
To get to the Sweet 16, Loyola won a pair of games which they were trailing in the final ten seconds on buzzer-beater buckets. Their opponent, Nevada, rallied from deficits of 14 and 22 points, respectively, in order to punch their own ticket to the South Region semifinal.
Someone's inspired run was going to end in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night. Whether it was the 11th-seeded Ramblers or the seventh-seeded Wolfpack would depend whose luck in the second half would run out.
Much to the joy of basketball fans in Chicago, that wouldn't be Loyola in Atlanta on this night.
Porter Moser's team came up with another clutch finish to beat Nevada 69-68 in the South Region semifinal to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1963. They'll await the winner of the later game between fifth-seeded Kentucky and ninth-seeded Kansas State on Saturday, with the time of game still to be determined.
Marques Townes led the way for the Ramblers with 18 points and his three-pointer with 6.3 seconds left put the game away for good as Loyola won their 13th-straight game dating back to the regular season. Clayton Custer and Aundre Jackson also added 15 points a piece.
In a scenario that played out similar to their second round game against Tennessee, the Ramblers fell behind to Nevada quickly. Jordan Caroline scored nine points in the first seven minutes and Caleb Martin's three-pointer with 13:36 left to go in the half gave the Wolfpack a 20-8 lead.
From then out, Loyola caught fire. The finished the first half on a 20-4 run, erasing the deficit and grabbing a four-point lead into the break. A quick break didn't slow them down as they came out and hit their first 13 shots of the second half and took a ten-point lead with 7:47 left in the game on Clayton Custer's layup.
Then came the trademark Nevada rally, as a 12-2 run sparked by six points from Cody Martin got the game back to even.
Loyola would respond thanks to Aundre Jackson, who knocked down a three-pointer and then got a hoop inside to help the Ramblers build a 64-60 lead. After a Wolfpack three-pointer, Jackson nailed a pair of free throws to push the lead back to three with 41 seconds to go. After the Nevada cut the lead to one, Marques Townes put the game away with a three-pointer with 6.3 second left to take the Ramblers from Sweet to Elite in this NCAA Tournament.