ST. LOUIS — Donte Ingram scored 18 points and Cameron Krutwig added 11 to lead Loyola's men's basketball team to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship Sunday over Illinois State.
The Ramblers' 65-49 win over the Redbirds at the Scottrade Center locked up their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1985. Loyola will await its destination next Sunday during the Big Dance's Selection Show.
"That's what we're trying to do. That's what everyone who's coming to this program is trying to do: put Loyola back on the map," said MVC player of the year Clayton Custer. "That's what we've done. People are starting to pay attention to us."
Illinois State fell to 18-15 despite 12 points and 12 boards from Phil Fayne. Milik Yarbrough added 12 points for the Redbirds. William Tinsley had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Freshman guard Lucas Williamson hit two 3-pointers in the final four minutes of the first half to lift Loyola to a 36-27 halftime lead.
Fayne, who led Illinois State with eight first-half points, pulled his team within five with a short jumper in the lane at the 4:01 mark of the first half. Williamson's first 3 of the game ended a 4-minute-plus drought for the regular-season champions and pushed their lead to eight.
Loyola led by as much 20 points in the second half.
Ingram, one of two senior starters on Loyola with Ben Richardson, was named the tournament MVP. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound lefty made 5 of 11 from the field, including 4 of 9 from the 3-point line, and 4 of 5 at the free-throw line.
"Everybody bought into the work," Ingram said. "We just remained close and connected all year."
Loyola won its 10th straight game to close out the tournament.