The Loyola women’s basketball team remains a perfect 9-0 this season after defeating Bowling Green State University 84-76 at Gentile Arena Monday afternoon. Allison Day scored a career-high 20 points in the victory.
There were 3,703 fans in attendance — the largest in program history — as part of the “Field Trip Day with the Ramblers” in which various local elementary schools attended the 11 a.m. tip-off. Loyola head coach Kate Achter, a Bowling Green alumna, said the large crowd made a massive impact in the outcome of the game.
“The energy that all those kids brought was just fantastic,” Achter said. “Typically, when you play those games, the kids can be swayed one way or the other and I thought they were complete Ramblers today. We needed them for 40 minutes.”
The Ramblers found themselves in an early hole, trailing 20-7 with 3:26 left in the first quarter. Loyola ended the 10-minute period with an 11-4 run to narrow the gap. After a scoreless opening quarter, junior forward Abby O’Connor dropped seven points and grabbed four rebounds in the second quarter as the Ramblers outscored the Falcons 25-15 to take a four-point lead into halftime.
“I told them to take a deep breath [after the first quarter],” Achter said. “It’s just a mindfulness thing. Take a deep breath, regroup, think about the intentions we set for the day and really think about the game plan. … We knew that we had 35 minutes of game left. The first five minutes weren’t going to define the day for us.”
O’Connor said the Ramblers struggled early on because of poor defense. She said the game turned around once the team got back to playing quality defense.
“I think a lot of our talks during their run were that we weren’t playing ‘Loyola defense,’” O’Connor said. “We weren’t playing defense the way we know we can play defense. What got us back into it was the stops that we were getting.”
The Falcons shot 6-for-7 from downtown in the first half, but the Ramblers held them to a combined 0-for-8 in the final two quarters.
The Ramblers led the entirety of the second half, including jumping out to an 11-point lead midway through the third quarter. But the Falcons battled back and brought the score to 74-72 with 2:14 remaining in the fourth quarter.
O’Connor said the team was able to stay focused and remain confident near the end due to previous experience this season. The Ramblers won off a buzzer-beating shot from Day against the University of Vermont Nov. 8. The Ramblers also defeated Portland University in overtime and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in double overtime.
“I think with the experience that we’ve had throughout this season, we’ve been in close games and overtime games,” O’Connor said. “Ultimately, when they cut it to two, we just knew we were going to get a stop. We were confident in what we were doing.”
Last season, the Ramblers lost on the road to Bowling Green 88-74. Entering this year, the Falcons were picked to finish sixth out of six teams in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division, according to the conference preseason poll.
Entering the game, Bowling Green was ranked 115th in the nation, according to Rating Percentage Index (RPI) — a ranking system that rates teams based on wins, losses and strength of schedule. Loyola is ranked 72nd out of 351 teams.
Next, Loyola is gearing up for a game against DePaul University at Gentile Arena Dec. 20. Loyola has only won once against DePaul in the 15 prior meetings. The Ramblers have lost three straight to the Blue Demons, including last year’s 102-76 loss. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game is set to be broadcast on ESPN3.