Donte Ingram scored 18 points, Cameron Krutwig added 11 points and nine rebounds and Loyola earned its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 33 years with a 65-49 victory over Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game on Sunday.
The Ramblers (28-5) have won 10 in a row and will return to the NCAAs for the first time since 1985, when they reached the Sweet 16.
Mailk Yarbrough and Phil Fayne led Illinois State (18-15) with 12 points each. Fayne added 12 rebounds.
Ingram hit on five of 11 shots including 4 of 9 from 3-point range. His four-point play with 6:21 left in the first half capped a 7-2 run that put the Ramblers up 27-18.
Loyola scored eight of the first 11 points in the second half to take a 43-30 lead. Krutwig led the outburst with back-to-back baskets in a span of 54 seconds.
The Ramblers were appearing in their first conference title game since 2002, when they were members of the Horizon League.
The Ramblers’ 10-game winning streak is the longest in coach Porter Moser’s seven years at the helm.
Illinois State, which missed 14 of its first 17 shots, lost in the title game for the third time in the last four years.
The championship game was the only contest in the nine-game tournament not decided by 10 points or fewer.
Loyola: Moser became the second coach in MVC history to win a title as a player and coach. He played for the Creighton title team in 1988. Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois also achieved the feat.
Illinois State: The Redbirds are hoping to receive a berth in the National Invitational Tournament. It would be their 15th NIT appearance overall and second in a row. The Redbirds began play on Sunday with a 78 RPI.
Phil Fayne, Illinois State
Milik Yarbrough, Illinois State
Ben Richardson, Loyola
Marques Townes, Loyola
Donte Ingram, Loyola (MVP)