Season’s greetings! And welcome to a special holiday edition of Brownie Points. I am essentially tasked with being the Santa Claus of The Phoenix sports section. I will be delivering presents — giving Brownie Points — to those who’ve been good recently. However, I will also be delivering coal — taking away Brownie Points — from those who’ve been bad.
First off, a small gift in the form of a singular Brownie Point for the Loyola women’s volleyball team. The team had an excellent regular season, going 21-10 and finishing second in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). The Ramblers would’ve gotten a much bigger present if they hadn’t lost in the MVC Tournament semifinals to Illinois State University. It was Loyola’s third loss to the Redbirds this season, but the Ramblers still deserve recognition for their strong season after going 5-24 just two years ago.
Now, it’s time to leave some coal in a team’s stocking. The Loyola men’s basketball team has somewhat bounced back with a pair of wins over Old Dominion University Nov. 27 and Ball State University Dec. 3. But that doesn’t erase the early season struggles.
The Ramblers blew consecutive, double-digit second half leads in their first two games in the Cayman Islands Classic. Loyola didn’t make a field goal in the final 10:28 of the game against the University of South Florida Nov. 25. A Tate Hall three-pointer put Loyola up 48-45, but the Ramblers went ice cold, losing 66-55 to the Bulls.
In the next game, Loyola led Colorado State University 53-41 with 9:28 left in the game but once again choked away a lead. The Rams came back to win 61-60 over Loyola.
Junior guard Keith Clemons made his debut against Ball State and appeared to give the team a boost, but the damage was done. Due to these struggles and second half collapses, I am taking away a single Brownie Point from the team. It could’ve been more, but the Ramblers appear to be trending in the right direction.
I saved the best gifts for last. The Loyola women’s basketball team is 6-0 — the best start in program history. And the team hasn’t just been winning, it’s been winning big. Loyola is outscoring opponents by an average of 18.5 points per game. The Ramblers have been tested, going to overtime twice and winning both times.
The Ramblers haven’t been playing the toughest teams in the NCAA, but five of their six games have been on the road. In Loyola’s lone home game, sophomore forward Allison Day hit a game-winning shot against the University of Vermont Nov. 8.
Day is one of three players averaging at least 13 points for Loyola this season. She averages 13.3 points while fellow sophomore Janae Gonzales scores 13.0 points per game. Junior forward Abby O’Connor leads the team, scoring 13.7 points per contest.
It remains to be seen how the team will fare once MVC play starts, but right now the team looks better than the MVC preseason poll prediction of seventh place out of 10 teams in the conference. As it stands now, the team couldn’t have started the season any better than this.
I’m a generous Santa, and I’m giving the team three Brownie Points with an extra stocking stuffer point for Allison Day and her game-winner.
I wish a very merry holiday season to all teams, and to all teams I wish a successful season. Merry Christmas, ya filthy Ramblers.