Oregon State beats Loyola at its own game, crashes Elite 8 as 12 seed

·3 min read

Loyola Chicago's vaunted defense lived up to the hype on Saturday.

Unfortunately for the Ramblers, Oregon State's was better.

The Beavers flustered and frustrated the the Ramblers from the opening tip, securing a 65-58 win to crash the Elite Eight as a No. 12 seed. Loyola had no answers for Oregon State's 2-3 zone, which stifled the Ramblers inside and out all day.

Beavers stifle Ramblers inside and out

When Loyola looked to the post, it met a swarm of defenders at the rim. When it shot over the zone, it missed. Meanwhile, Oregon State's offense managed just enough to secure the win. And just like that, Loyola's NCAA tournament story is over, one game after an upset of No. 1 Illinois prompted predictions of a championship run from the No. 8 seed.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 27: Ethan Thompson #5 of the Oregon State Beavers celebrates after a breakaway dunk against the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers during the second half in the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 27, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Oregon State's unlikely tournament run continues. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Loyola entered the game with college basketball's stingiest defense and gave Oregon State a heavy dose of it from the opening tip. The Beavers won the tip, but didn't manage to get off a shot as the Ramblers forced a shot-clock violation. Oregon State didn't score its first field goal until a Rodrigue Andela layup with 13:50 remaining in the first half.

But Loyola's offense was only marginally better up to that point and held a 7-3 lead after Andela broke the field-goal drought. Before the half was over, Oregon State found an offensive rhythm, reeling off an 11-0 run to take a 24-16 edge into halftime.

11-point lead seemed insurmountable

When the Beavers extended their edge to 33-22 four minutes into the second half, the lead felt too big for Loyola to overcome. It was.

Both offenses picked up the pace in the late stages of the game, but Oregon State never let Loyola within a single possession while extending its unlikely tournament run to the Midwest Regional Final.

The Beavers extend the success story for the Pac-12, which advanced four teams to this weekend's Sweet 16. And they wouldn't have been in the tournament at all were it not for an unexpected run to the Pac-12 tournament championship. Without the conference's automatic bid, they would not have qualified for the NCAA tournament field. Now they're three wins away from a national championship.

Rough numbers for Loyola

The box score was ugly for Loyola. The Ramblers shot 33.3% from the field and connected on just 5-of-23 (21.7%) 3-point attempts. Many of those misses from distance were on open shots. If Loyola connected on just a handful of those misses, it might have advanced.

The halftime story was even worse. Center Cameron Krutwig connected on three of the four total made Loyola field goals in the opening stanza as the Ramblers shot 1-of-9 from 3-point distance. The second half was an upgrade, but it wasn't enough.

Krutwig, who was a member of the 2018 Loyola team that made a surprise run to the Final Four, finishes his career with a 14-point 10-rebound effort.

Ethan Thompson was the best player on the floor. The Oregon State guard was an oasis of offense in a parched desert, connecting 6-of-13 field goals and 2-of-3 3-point attempts en route to 22 points. Warith Alatishe was the only other Beaver to score in double figures with 10 points alongside a game-high 11 rebounds.

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