MI halts Loyola in Final Four semifinal

MI halts Loyola in Final Four semifinal

MI refused to fade, even with point guard Zavier Simpson - whose solid play has been critical to the Wolverines' late-season surge - playing terribly. Charles Matthews added 17 points.

As Loyola left the Final Four court Saturday night in disappointment, coach Porter Moser hugged Christian Negron, a freshman forward who played sporadically in 17 games.

He didn't hesitate. It was No. 1.

The Ramblers, who made a magical run in the NCAA Tournament to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed, saw their season come to an end Saturday, as No. 3 seed MI ousted them 69-57. The other two were Hakeem Olajuwon and Larry Bird.

Villanova has already matched the record for the most 3-pointers in a Final Four game with 13 against Kansas. Both were redshirt juniors this season and will immediately be one of the best backcourts in America next season.

Much of the talk coming into Saturday's semifinal had been the run of the Ramblers. Wagner missed a triple, and on the next trip Matthews threw it away in transition, Michigan's eighth turnover of the half.

Abdur-Rahkman said it was fun to watch. The Wolverines won a 69-57 game whose final score will always tell a lie. A huge key was how MI dropped their defense back into the paint to cut down Custer's dribble penetration angles and how he was able to get the ball to Krutwig for good looks inside.

Loyola, meanwhile, slowly took advantage by closing the half on an elongated 25-10 run that led to a seven-point lead at the break. The Wolverines finished the game with a 38-16 spurt. "We were one (assist) and eight", Beilein said.

MI shot 29 percent in the first half and a 57.1 percent in the second.

Custer took the game over from a while as he scored nine of his 15 points in the first 8:35 of the second half as Loyola built a 45-37 lead. "When I walked off the floor, I was asked what I said to them". "I had a lot of easy rebounds". "We had trouble scoring int he first half".

Beilein begged his team during halftime to pass the ball more and force turnovers. "It just happened to be like that". Loyola officials have said they've had internal talks about renegotiating Moser's contract. "We scored 22 points and that was kind of the only way we found our way to the basket, grab offensive rebounds and get second-shot opportunities". The ultimate edge was 19-6.

"We're not like that where we can go and just school anybody", Beilein said. You don't get there with just luck. Their length, they're really good defensively. "And I like guys like that".

The win also marked the 799th win overall for MI head coach John Beilein. And I want them to enjoy it.

Custer scored seven straight points for Loyola at one point to put the Ramblers up 41-31 with 14:08 remaining. MI struggled too and, at one point, both teams had as many turnovers as field goals.

Overall at one point, MI had a 30-9 run in the second half.

"We're not done yet", MI senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman said. Those two players combined to shoot 17 of 28 from the field. The first is West Region champion and third-seeded MI against South Region champion and 11-seed Loyola-Chicago.

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