Golden: Wagner ends Loyola’s Cinderella run

Moe Wagner, Cinderella killer.

Michigan awoke from a first-half slumber Saturday, thanks to its burly big who put the Wolverines on his back, effectively carrying his team to its second national title game appearance in six seasons.

The book is now closed on Loyola-Chicago’s epic NCAA Tournament run.

Michigan 69, Loyola-Chicago 57.

Great players usually emerge when the stakes are the highest, and the 6-foot-11 Wagner, who arrived in the Alamo City on a career roll after winning the Big Ten Tournament MVP, put his stamp on the proceedings with 24 points and 15 rebounds. He was the best player on both ends from start to finish.

Wagner plays with a fierceness on both ends that has some NBA scouts salivating. At one point, with his team up 63-53 with 1 minute, 18 seconds remaining, the 245-pounder jumped into the passing lane to deflect a pass and had to jump over a courtside table to avoid introducing his knee to Grant Hill’s forehead. Hill shook the big guy’s hand as Michigan fans seated nearby roared their approval.

The Wolverines had to be wondering how they put the defensive clamps on Loyola-Chicago in the first half, only to find themselves in an unenviable 29-22 hole at halftime.

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