The Loyola women’s basketball team (12-4, 3-2) couldn’t keep up with Bradley University, losing 60-47 Friday afternoon in Gentile Arena. Loyola junior forward Abby O’Connor became the 25th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points for the Ramblers with seven points on 3-for-10 shooting in the loss.
Loyola couldn’t overcome a strong second quarter by Bradley. The Braves outscored the Ramblers 20-8 in the second period — including an 11-0 run to start the quarter. Bradley only edged the Ramblers by a single point in the other three quarters combined, 40-39.
“I thought in the first half, some of [Bradley’s offensive] spurts were because of mistakes we were making like [giving up] offensive rebounds leading to a catch-and-shoot three,” Achter said.
The Ramblers struggled heavily on the offensive end against Bradley. Loyola shot a season-low 28.6 percent against the Braves and also piled up 15 turnovers, while dishing out seven assists.
Allison Day was the only Rambler to reach double figures in scoring. The sophomore center scored 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting.
Achter said she was proud of her squad’s defensive efforts in the game, specifically mentioning the tough defensive assignment of stopping Lasha Petree. The Bradley sophomore guard entered the game avering 19 points per game this season — the most in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC).
Petree scored 13 points for the Braves on 4-for-10 shooting. The 6-foot guard grabbed 10 rebounds but turned the ball over four times.
“Anytime you hold a team to 60 points, you’re doing a good job defensively,” Achter said. “Lasha Petree was averaging 28 points a game over [Bradley’s three conference games], and we held her to 13. I don’t think our defense was the problem today, I think it was our offense. It just looked really stagnant, and we gotta get better.”
With the victory, Bradley remains tied for first place in the MVC at 4-0 in conference play and 13-2 overall. The Braves entered the season picked fourth in the MVC preseason poll, while Loyola was tabbed to finish seventh out of 10 teams.
However, Loyola was ranked ahead of Bradley in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) — a system that ranks all 352 Division I teams based on wins, losses and strength of schedule. Bradley was No. 115 in the RPI, while Loyola checked in slightly higher at No. 108.
After scoring in double figures in 13 of Loyola’s first 14 games, O’Connor was held to nine points on 3-for-11 shooting last game on the road against Indiana State University. Entering today’s game, the South Bend, Ind. native needed exactly seven points to reach the benchmark.
After the game, O’Connor said she was glad to accomplish the feat, but also relieved that now she can “just play without thinking about it.”
“Obviously, it’s super exciting,” O’Connor said. “I think it’s a credit to my teammates, first and foremost. They have believed in me from the jump, especially the coaching staff and [head coach Kate Achter]. They’ve put me in places to succeed here, and I’m just really grateful for the people I’ve been surrounded with.”
Next, the Ramblers are set to host Illinois State University at Gentile Arena Jan. 19. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. on ESPN+.