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The buzzer beater that changed history

loyola 1963Loyola’s latest run renews interest in 1963 team that broke basketball’s color barrier on way to title

Loyola’s buzzer beater has Rambler faithful looking ahead to the second round of the NCAA tournament, but at the same time, basketball fans across the country are looking back at the school’s historic 1963 run to the national championship and its role in breaking through the evils of segregation.

In the 1963 national championship game – the first to be televised -- Loyola trailed two-time defending champion Cincinnati by 15 points with 10 minutes left, but rallied to force overtime and then won on a tip in off a missed shot at the buzzer.

That 1963 team is credited with breaking the color barrier in college basketball. Coach George Ireland ignored that era’s “gentlemen’s agreement” and started four African American players that season, sparking controversy across the country but forcing change throughout sports and society.

On its way to the 1963 title, Loyola faced Mississippi State in the NCAA regional in a game that’s become known as the “Game of Change.” Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett officially barred his state’s school from playing the integrated Loyola team. But Mississippi State’s coach and players devised a scheme to sneak out of the state before the coach could be served with the official injunction.

In 2012, with the 50-year anniversary of Loyola’s accomplishments approaching, the Illinois Senate added its name to the growing list of supporters calling for the groundbreaking team and coach to be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

With players from the 1963 team in attendance, the Senate, whose Republican and Democratic leaders at the time were both Loyola grads, approved a resolution formally supporting the team.

The following year the 1963 Loyola Ramblers became the first team to be enshrined.

That 1963 Loyola team remains the only Illinois team to win the NCAA basketball national championship.

Read more about the groundbreaking 1963 national champion Loyola Ramblers:

It was more than just a game on March 23, 1963 - Sports Illustrated

1963 Loyola Ramblers remembered for NCAA championship and inspiring social change

1963 Men's baketball NCAA title team to be inducted into National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame

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