What went down: The Loyola women’s basketball team (3-16, 1-7) returned to Gentile Arena after a nearly three-week stretch away from home to take on Indiana State University Jan 26. After a slow first half, the Ramblers came back stronger in the second half but lost 73-65.
How it happened: Loyola trailed 13-8 after the first quarter, but Indiana State pulled away in the second quarter, taking a 31-19 lead into the break. The Ramblers came out scoring in the second half, closing the gap to as little as seven points, but were never able to grab a lead.
Analysis: The Ramblers had a steady increase of field goal percentage throughout the four quarters and ended the game going 24-for-58 from the field. They also outrebounded the Sycamores 36-33, but the Sycamores went 9-of-22 from three-point territory to put the Ramblers away.
First-year forward Abby O’Connor led Loyola with 17 points while adding four rebounds in 37 of 40 minutes. She’s now leading the team with 10.2 ppg and 5.5 rpg.
Close behind O’Connor in points was senior guard Katie Salmon, who scored 16 points and pulled down a game-high six rebounds. Salmon scored 11 points during the second half, which was key to pulling Loyola within single digits after being down by as much as 20 points.
First-year Ellie Rice scored a career-high 13 points, 11 of which came after halftime. Rice is averaging 6.7 ppg and head coach Kate Achter said she was happy with how Rice stepped up against Indiana State.
A sluggish first half doomed the Ramblers as they shot 25 percent (7-of-28) from the field and allowed Indiana State to shoot 46.7 percent (14-of-30). Despite outscoring the Sycamores 46-42 in the last two quarters, Loyola couldn’t come back from the 31-19 halftime deficit.
Achter’s thoughts: In the postgame press conference, Achter said while she thought the strong second half was a good sign, her young squad needs to play better out of the gate.
“We actually won the second half which was really encouraging, but at the same time we haven’t started well in a while,” Achter said. “As disappointed as I am in our effort in the first half, there was a bit of resiliency and fight late. Now it just can’t take us 30 minutes to decide we are going to have it.”
What’s next? Loyola is scheduled to take on the University of Evansville at Gentile Arena Jan. 28.