Loyola women’s basketball head coach Kate Achter didn’t sugarcoat things following a stunning 66-64 loss on the road to Valparaiso University Friday night.
“We gotta make free throws,” Achter said in a short postgame press conference. “We lost this game because we didn’t make free throws. 14-of-27, we gotta grow up. That’s my opening statement.”
The Ramblers (13-5, 4-3) led by 11 points heading into the fourth quarter, but poor free throw shooting plagued Loyola down the stretch. The Ramblers shot 14-for-27 overall at the charity stripe, including just 5-for-12 in the fourth quarter.
Loyola junior forward Abby O’Connor finished with a team-high 16 points to go along with seven rebounds. O’Connor entered the day shooting 88.4 percent from the foul line, but she went 4-for-8 against the Crusaders.
Loyola’s Tiara Wallace scored eight points and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds in the effort. But the senior guard went just 2-for-6 from the charity stripe — all of which came in the fourth quarter.
“There aren’t any bright spots,” Achter said. “Ellie [Rice] went 1-for-9. When I needed Abby [O’Connor] to step up and make a free throw, she didn’t. When I needed my senior [Wallace] to step up and make free throws, [she] didn’t.”
The Ramblers and Crusaders were back-and-forth to begin the game. Valparaiso led 17-15 after the opening quarter, but Loyola dominated the second period, outscoring the Crusaders 12-2 to take a 27-19 lead into halftime.
Loyola came out strong after the break and took an 11-point lead into the final period. The Ramblers held a nine-point lead with 2:02 remaining in the game, but Valparaiso outscored Loyola 16-5 in the final two minutes of the game.
Entering the game, Loyola was in fourth place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), while Valparaiso was eight out of the 10 teams in the standings. The Ramblers were ranked No. 98 in the country, according to the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) — a system that ranks the 352 Division I teams based on wins, losses and strength of schedule. The Crusaders came in at No. 183, according to the RPI.
This was the Ramblers’ first loss on the road this season after going 8-0 away from Gentile Arena. The Ramblers have never won at Valparaiso’s Athletics-Recreation Center under Achter’s tenure and are 1-13 all time.
“[The team has] to decide if they want to make free throws or not,” Achter said. “We’ve never won here, and they need to grow up. We haven’t played well in a long time. It’s on them. They need to decide.”