The Loyola women’s basketball team (10-9, 4-4) held off a late rally to defeat Illinois State University (ISU) 62-59 at Gentile Arena Friday night to kick off a four-game homestand.
Sophomore guard Ellie Rice led the Ramblers with 18 points on 5-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-5 from three-point territory. Sophomore guard Abby O’Connor tallied 14 points and six rebounds, while first-year forward Allison Day had 13 points and seven boards. Junior guard Tiara Wallace added 12 points and 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.
Of Rice’s 18 points, 16 came after halftime. She said the coaches expressed their belief in her during the break, which gave her enough of a push to help her find her shot.
“I’m still working on trying to have the confidence in myself to take those kinds of shots,” Rice said. “I think my teammates and my coaches just gave me that confidence during halftime to take and make those shots in the second half.”
“I think my teammates and my coaches just gave me that confidence during halftime to take and make those shots in the second half.”Ellie Rice, Loyola sophomore guard
The Redbirds fall to 10-9 overall and 3-5 in Missouri Valley Conference play with the loss. They shot just 36.1 percent from the field and were led by Maggett’s 24 points and 12 rebounds.
Even though the Ramblers came out of the gate slow, head coach Kate Achter said she was pleased with the players’ effort in the second half. She said she won’t tell them to change anything in terms of when they hit their peak ahead of their upcoming game against Bradley University Feb. 3.
“I think we just have to keep focusing on the big picture, and that’s the climb,” Achter said. “When you focus on those things … [the result] takes care of itself.”
After ISU took a seven-point lead less than five minutes into the game, Loyola got its first successful shot of the game from Day. The Redbirds kept a lead through the rest of the first quarter and led 13-8 going into the second frame. ISU maintained its lead until Wallace came up with two three-pointers to put Loyola ahead 16-15. Rice sealed the deal with a shot in the last 15 seconds and Loyola went into halftime leading 21-19.
“I think we just have to keep focusing on the big picture, and that’s the climb.”Kate Achter, Loyola head coach
In the third quarter, Loyola took a nine-point lead thanks to three-pointers from Rice and O’Connor. They were able to keep it up consistently until ISU mounted a comeback to shorten the Ramblers’ lead to 46-39. Loyola extended its lead to 58-47 with 1:09 left in the game, but ISU went on a 7-3 run to pull within two points with less than 10 seconds on the clock.
A free throw from Wallace made it 62-59 in favor of the Ramblers, and ISU’s Tete Maggett missed a potential game-tying three as time expired.
Next up, the Ramblers are scheduled to take on Bradley Feb. 3 at Gentile Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.