Women's Basketball

Late Free Throws Carry Loyola to 61-56 Victory Over Evansville

Nick Schultz | The PhoenixJunior guard Tiara Wallace led Loyola with 14 points in a 61-56 win over Evansville Jan. 18.

The Loyola women’s basketball team (8-7, 2-2) opened a two-game homestand with a 61-56 victory over University of Evansville at Gentile Arena Friday afternoon.

Three Ramblers scored in double digits, led by junior guard Tiara Wallace’s 14 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Alexis Meyer, in her fourth game back from a knee injury, added 13 points and seven rebounds while sophomore forward Abby O’Connor contributed 10 points and six boards.

The Ramblers continued to have trouble controlling the ball, committing 19 turnovers in the effort — slightly higher than their season average of 15.4 miscues per game. The Purple Aces, who only committed nine turnovers, turned those mistakes into 18 points.

Evansville went into the matchup last out of 10 teams in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 2-13 record and 0-4 in conference play. The Purple Aces shot just 30.4 percent from the field and 25 percent from beyond the three-point line. But the Ramblers struggled to contain Evansville guard Kerri Gasper, who recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Loyola took an early 10-8 lead in the first quarter, but an 8-0 run by the Purple Aces put them ahead 16-10. Loyola found its groove in the second quarter, outscoring the Purple Aces 17-4 to take a 27-20 lead into halftime.

Despite leading 48-38 after three quarters, the Ramblers got off to a slow start to the fourth as Evansville started to close the gap, pulling within three points with three seconds left. But two late free throws from O’Connor gave Loyola a 61-56 advantage, which held as the final.

Loyola head coach Kate Achter said she feels lucky the Ramblers escaped with a win considering she thought Evansville outplayed them. Achter also highlighted junior guard Jazmine Covington’s performance, saying she was doing exactly what was asked of her when the team turned the game around in the second quarter. Covington finished with four points, three rebounds and six assists in 16 minutes of action.

“[Covington] pushed the tempo,” Achter said. “She valued the basketball … I really thought that [Covington] sparked us in that second quarter.”

With another home game coming up in two days, Meyer said the team’s focus will be improving their ability to close out games.

“We kind of started to let them start chipping back into it,” Meyer said. “We’ve got to work on our toughness for sure and … our momentum moving forward.”

The Ramblers are set to take on Indiana State University Jan 14 at Gentile. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m and the game will be broadcasted ESPN3.

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