Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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Oregon State Gets Past Loyola, Extending a Surprise March Run

Oregon State’s zone defense and plenty of good shooting by Ethan Thompson lifted the Beavers into the Elite Eight.

The eighth-seeded Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago had beaten a rising Georgia Tech. They had ousted one of the N.C.A.A. men’s tournament’s No. 1 seeds, Illinois, with ease, and reignited all manner of goodly chatter about school pride and spring promise.

And then, faced with a menacing zone defense in the Sweet 16 on Saturday in Indianapolis, they lost to Oregon State, a team that just weeks ago was not thought anywhere near fine enough to play in the national tournament. And Oregon State, which arrived in Indiana as a No. 12 seed after being written off at the season’s start, extended a glorious March run at least a little longer.

Ethan Thompson, a senior guard from Los Angeles who has started every game dating to his first season in Corvallis, led Oregon State with 22 points and perfection from the free-throw line. Oregon State’s bench added 15 to help secure a win, 65-58.

It came after a first half that offered one of the least dazzling offensive displays in the history of the tournament: a combined 40 points between Loyola and Oregon State. Struggling with Oregon State’s defense, Loyola had more turnovers than field goals and missed its last seven shots before the intermission to finish the half with a miserly 17.4 percent shooting. Oregon State, with its 33.3 percent showing, seemed kingly, but only because it managed an 11-0 run before halftime.

Loyola broke its scoring drought early in the second half. The trouble for the Ramblers, who later pulled together a 6-point streak, was that Thompson’s shooting kept improving, with accuracy well beyond his norm throughout the season.

Loyola’s shooting on Saturday? Well, the Ramblers got a lot of balls to the rim. But Loyola missed 18 of its 23 3-point tries and made just one-third of its shots over all. The Ramblers were 17 for 24 from the free-throw line, while Oregon State, certainly aided by Thompson’s precision, made 90 percent of its free throws.

In spite of Loyola’s troubles, the team pulled within 4 of Oregon State with 92 seconds to go. Just 22 seconds later, though, Jarod Lucas hit a 3-point shot for Oregon State that seemed to extinguish Loyola’s hopes.

Cameron Krutwig, Loyola’s center, had a double-double, recording 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Oregon State’s ascent into the Elite Eight, where it will play Houston or Syracuse, has been a startle around a tournament few expected the Beavers to reach in the first place. A preseason pick to finish last in the Pac-12 Conference, Oregon State stitched together a 14-12 record in the regular season and then marched through the league tournament to earn a guaranteed berth on the national stage.

A first-round, 14-point victory over Tennessee pushed the Beavers past a No. 5 seed. In the second round, they held off Oklahoma State, even as Cade Cunningham, who could be the top pick in this year’s N.B.A. draft, scored 24 for the Cowboys in the round of 32.

Loyola, which had been hoping to replicate its 2018 rise to the Final Four, ended its season at 26-5.

Latest Posts

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