The Cincinnati Bearcats 26-1 returned for their third consecutive NCAA final and their fifth consecutive Final Four appearance against the Loyola of Chicago Ramblers 28-2 at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky on March 23, 1963.
Cincinnati had dispatched Texas 73-68, Colorado 67-60 and Oregon State 80-46 while Loyola defeated Tennessee Tech 111-42, Mississippi State 61-57, Illinois 79-64 and Duke 94-75.
Ed Jucker’s team was similar to the previous year’s championship team with Ron Bonham 21.0 ppg 6.4 rpg, Tom Thacker 15.8 ppg 10.0 rpg, George Wilson 15.0 ppg 11.2 rpg and Tony Yates 15.0 ppg 4.1 rpg.
Loyola coached by George Ireland featured Jerry Harkness 21.4 ppg 7.6 rpg, Lee Hunter 17.0 ppg 11.4 rpg, John Egan 13.7 ppg 3.6 rpg, Vic Rouse 13.5 ppg 12.1 rpg and Ron Miller 13.4 ppg 5.4 rpg.
Ireland was a former successful high school coach who would spend his entire 24 year college career coaching at Loyola. He emphasized an up tempo offense together with a pressing defense which resulted in the Ramblers having the highest scoring average in the nation with 91.3 ppg and allowing opponents 75.5 ppg.
They scored over 100 points eleven times during the season with a high of 127 against Morehead State while the Bearcats averaged 69.8 ppg and allowed their opponents 53.9 ppg.
The first half of the game was all Cincinnati as the Ramblers could not get on track from the field. Their leading scorer Jerry Harkness was without a field goal and the Bearcats led 29-21 at intermission.
They extended the lead to 45-30 early in the second half but Wilson, Yates and Thacker all picked up four fouls and Ed Jucker decided to go into a slowdown stall type of play.
However turnovers and Loyola’s better field goal percentage allowed the Ramblers back into the game.
Leading by one point with seconds to play the Bearcats’ Larry Shingleton had two free throws for Cincinnati and if he makes both and extends the lead to three the game is virtually over as they did not have the three point shot at that time.
But he missed the second free throw and Loyola rebounded the ball and passed it to Harkness who made a jumper with four seconds left on the clock to tie the score and go into overtime-for Cincinnati it was the second overtime in their three years in the finals.
Overtime was close and tied at 58 each. Loyola had the ball and with the clock winding down Lee Hunter put up a shot which missed but Vic Rouse rebounded the ball for the Ramblers and put it in to give them a two point lead with one second left on the clock. The clock ran out before Cincinnati could in bounds the ball and Loyola won 60—58.
Loyola finished with a .274 field goal percentage going 23 for 84 and Cincinnati put up a .483 percentage with 22 of 45. Each team had 34 rebounds and the same number of free throws 14 but Cincinnati turned the ball over more sixteen times compared to Loyola’s three.
In contrast to today’s frequent substitutions the starting five Loyola players played all the way while Cincinnati used only six players.
Neither Loyola nor Cincinnati has returned to the NCAA final game.
Ron Griffitts a contribution columnist for the Daily Advocate