Loyola pulls away late to beat Georgia Tech in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

Big Tournament

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 19: Cameron Krutwig #25 of the Loyola (Il) Ramblers shoots over Rodney Howard #24 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the second half in the first round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 19, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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INDIANAPOLIS – Three years after their memorable run to the national semifinal, the Ramblers were back again.

This time they weren’t quite as much of an underdog as they were back in 2018, when they had a No. 11 seed after a strong regular season. In 2021, Porter Moser’s group was the No. 8 seed as they entered the tournament after Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament championships.

Many expected the Ramblers to knock off ninth-seeded Georgia Tech and they entered as 5.5 point favorites according to the William Hill Sportsbook. Those came out after Moses Wright, the ACC’s Player of the Year, was ruled out for the game due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Still, the battle between the middle seeds was tight for the better part of four minutes with the teams trading leads and momentum in their first round game at Hinkle Fieldhouse. But like they’ve done all year, the Ramblers found a way to pull away in the end for the victory over the Yellow Jackets on Friday afternoon in Indianapolis.

Senior guard Lucas Williamson led Loyola with 21 points on the afternoon with Braden Norris getting 16, Keith Clemons 12, and Cameron Krutwig ten. The Ramblers got the job done on the glass, outrebounding the Yellow Jackets 30-17 and 13-1 on the offensive glass, which led to a number of second-change points that helped Loyola pull away in the final minutes.

With the victory, Loyola now moves on to face Illinois in the second round of the tournament after the Illini beat Drexel 78-49 earlier Friday afternoon.

It wasn’t the best of starts for Loyola who fell behind 13-3 in the first seven minutes of the game. The Ramblers would chip away over the rest of the half and would build a five-point lead heading into the break.

The game would remain close in the early part of the second half but Loyola finally started to pull away towards the end of the contest. Lucas Williamson’s three-pointer with 11:05 to go broke a 43-all tie and the Ramblers wouldn’t trail again, building a double-digit lead down the stretch.

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