SAN ANTONIO — At the end of their first season at Loyola in 2015, Donte Ingram and Ben Richardson proudly raised the College Basketball Invitational trophy above their heads. As freshmen, they played a huge role in the Ramblers’ first postseason appearance since 1985.
As seniors three years later, Ingram and Richardson raised an NCAA South Regional championship trophy above their heads after helping Loyola reach its first Final Four since 1963.
On Saturday, the two heard their names announced in the Ramblers’ starting lineup before the game against Michigan. They played their last game for Loyola in front of 68,257 spectators at the Alamodome.
That would have seemed like a dream four years ago, especially when their first game at Gentile Arena in 2014 drew a crowd of only roughly 1,470 spectators.
Ingram and Richardson remember the dark ages of Loyola basketball, when the only media outlet that consistently covered the team was the student newspaper. The fan turnout was even more disappointing. As Ingram said, the Ramblers were lucky to get ‘‘maybe 100 [fans] on a good day’’ to attend their home games.
‘‘Me and Ben have been in this together since Day 1,’’ Ingram said. ‘‘Me and him are the only guys on the team that have seen all this come up from Day 1, along with coach [Porter Moser], and we’ve come a long way.’’
Their legacies in the program are cemented. The two, who are the only four-year Ramblers on the roster, ended their careers with 89 victories, which are the most in a four-year span since freshmen became eligible to play in the 1970s.
‘‘These guys are just so high-character,’’ Moser said. ‘‘But what they did is very hard to do. They left an impact on this school, this student body.
‘‘Look at the ride the student body went on. Look at the ride the alumni went on from coast to coast. Look at the perception of people looking at what they did and how they did it. I mean, leaving an impact like that, they changed the perception of Loyola.’’
After the Ramblers’ loss, it was hard for Ingram and Richardson to process how they will be remembered.
‘‘It hurts right now, and we’re disappointed,’’ Richardson said. ‘‘But we’re going to be able to have a lot of pride in the fact that we made a name for ourselves and kind of let the whole country know what we’re about and worked hard for it. And we earned everything that we got.’’