SAN ANTONIO — “The more you invest in something, the harder it is to give up.”
Those were the words of Loyola Chicago’s head coach Porter Moser after his team relinquished a double digit lead and bowed to the University of Michigan in the 2018 NCAA Final Four, 69-57.
In front of a capacity crowd at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time), the Cinderella ride of the South Region’s 11 seed came to an end.
According to Porter, his team didn’t take to the “Cinderella” moniker and believed wholeheartedly that they belonged with the Blue Blood teams that made up the rest of the Final Four.
Michigan led early by as many as eight points, but the underdog Ramblers shook off their nerves and showed that the lights were not too bright. Loyola tied the game at 15 with 6:47 left to play in the first half and proceed to start a run that would take them to a 29-22 halftime lead.
The Wolverines had a dismal shooting performance in the first half, making only 2 of 13 shots from three point range (15.4%) and shooting 9 for 31 (29.0%) overall.
Loyola continued their run after the half and increased their lead to 10 just a minute into it. But Michigan persisted, firming up their defense, and began to chip away at the Ramblers’ lead. It eventually exploded into a 12-0 run that lasted over four minutes and included five consecutive Loyola turnovers.
“I think this team, we understand that it’s a game of runs. And we’re not going to get rattled. We’ve been down before…. And we just stayed the course,” said Michigan sophomore guard Charles Matthews.
The Ramblers would not recover.
Junior forward Moritz Wagner had a big night for Michigan with 24 points and 15 rebounds. The win also marked the 799th win overall for Michigan head coach John Beilein.
Loyola ended its season at 32-6, the winningest season in program history. Senior Donte Ingram finished his Rambler career ranked 23rd in Loyola men’s basketball history with 1,235 points.
As for the impact this team had on basketball at Loyola, Moser said: “They have so much to be proud of. They changed the perception of a program. They changed the perception of when you say Loyola Chicago for men’s basketball … I couldn’t be more proud and saddened that this is over with these kids.”
Michigan plays Villanova in the Championship game on Monday.