The dream is over for Loyola in loss to Oregon State
The Loyola Ramblers got themselves caught in a trap Saturday -- a Beaver trap.
The eighth-seeded Ramblers were stymied by Oregon State's zone defense for much of Saturday's matchup at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Loyola trailed 24-16 at halftime on the way to a 65-58 loss to 12th-seeded Oregon State.
The Beavers (20-12) go on to the Elite 8 while the Ramblers (26-5) go home wondering how they could have suffered through such a horrific shooting game.
The Ramblers wound up 18 of 54 (33.3%) from the field, and 5 of 23 (21.7%) from 3-point range.
Thus ends the second storybook run in four years for Loyola, which made a stunning run to the Final Four three years ago and got to the Sweet 16 this year by knocking off No. 9 seed Georgia Tech and upsetting top-seeded Illinois.
"Very hard scene in our locker room," said Loyola coach Porter Moser, who said he has not thought about the rampant speculation about his own future and whether he will stay in Rogers Park or bolt for a bigger job, such as at Indiana. "The kids cared so much. Very tough when it comes to an end ... I told them hold their heads up. I told them (to) take the towels off their head. Look up. Raise your head. Every year I talk about it with the new guys and the old guys. I say, 'You're representing the name on the front of that jersey.'
"We've established a culture that there's a lot that goes into that, and they did everything, on and off the floor, we could ask for representing that."
Things came to an end largely because of Loyola's cold shooting and a masterful game plan put together by Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle and executed by his players.
"My family made me a T-shirt, and they made them for our whole group," said Tinkle, whose father, Wayne, Sr., was an administrator at Loyola years ago. "I think on one side it said, 'Pac-12 12th' and then, 'March Madness 16th.' And they put my dad's initial on my right sleeve. And I wore that. Normally I don't do that. But I had so much confidence and belief in this group, I knew that this thing -- as good as Loyola is, man, as well-coached -- I knew this thing was meant to be. I knew we were going to move on."
The Ramblers simply could not solve the Beavers' changing defenses, especially their zone. Loyola took a 16-13 lead with about six minutes left in the first half on a basket by Cameron Krutwig in the lane, but Oregon State finished the half with an 11-0 run.
Loyola's shooting struggles continued into the second half, but they were able to pull within 47-44 with about four minutes left on a 3-pointer by Braden Norris followed by a basket inside by Aher Uguak. But that was as close as the Ramblers would come.
"We didn't play with the pace we wanted to play with," said Krutwig, a graduate of Jacobs High School in Algonquin. Krutwig led Loyola with 14 points. "We kind of let them slow us down a little bit. Honestly, we got a lot of good looks. If you go back and watch the tape, we got a lot of open 3s. We just didn't make them. I got a couple open looks in the paint that I missed, especially in the second half.
"Yeah, they ran that zone. They do run it well. But I felt we were getting our looks, getting open shots. We just didn't convert on them. And we really didn't play with the type of pace we wanted to play with. We kind of got the pace going in the second half, and we started to find our rhythm a little bit, but it was kind of too little too late."
Norris and senior Lucas Williamson each had 10 points for Loyola, which also battled foul trouble, with Uguak fouling out.
The player of the game for the Beavers was Ethan Thompson, with 22 points.
"I think we were just being stronger and more aggressive," he said. "I think that early in the game we kind of were going through a little feeling-out process of how they played defensively and offensively."
As the game wound down and subs came in, Krutwig and Williamson locked in a long embrace near the bench. Even though each has another year of eligibility because of the COVID pandemic, Krutwig said he hasn't thought about whether he'll come back.
He talked about the moment with Williamson. The two were freshman teammates on the Final Four team in 2018.
"I just told him I loved him and stuff, " Krutwig said. "It's just kind of hard to put into words the type of stuff -- roommates the last two years. A lot of memories with him I'll have. It's tough. I just told him I loved him and everything."
• Twitter: @BruceMiles2112