The Loyola women’s basketball team’s (15-11, 6-9) second-half comeback came up short as the Ramblers fell to Drake University 83-75 at Gentile Arena Friday night. Sophomore forward Allison Day tied her career-high with 20 points, including going 12-for-14 from the free throw line.
After a neck-and-neck first quarter, Drake outscored Loyola by 11 points in the second period to take a 13-point lead into halftime. The Bulldogs’ lead stretched to 16 points with 5:39 remaining in the third quarter, but the Ramblers ended the period on a 17-7 run to cut their deficit to just six points, 62-56.
Day helped spark the Ramblers’ comeback, scoring 12 of her 20 points in the third quarter. After the game, she said she was able to make a big offensive impact because most of the time she was able to go one-on-one with her defender near the basket without having to worry about other defenders coming over to help.
“I think we really focused on having balance in the post and just being patient because they’re not going to [double-team] you,” Day said. “My team just kept feeding me the ball, and I tried to go up and finish.”
Loyola started the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run to take a one-point lead with 6:32 remaining in the game. The Bulldogs responded with a 15-4 burst to take a commanding lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“Our goal coming out of halftime was to make Drake take the first timeout,” Loyola head coach Kate Achter said. “We didn’t quite get to that, but when we finally caught our breaths … we just played disciplined and tough. And that’s a thing we haven’t seen from our team in a while.”
Senior guard Tiara Wallace, Loyola’s lone senior, finished with 15 points and five steals. Wallace also grabbed six rebounds and dished out six assists in her second-to-last game at Gentile.
“I only have a couple games left so I’m just trying to go out there and give it my all,” Wallace said. “This is one of the last times I’ll be on the floor with them.”
Junior forward Abby O’Connor was the third Rambler to reach double figure points with 16 points to go along with nine rebounds.
Coming into the season, Drake was picked to finish first in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) preseason poll. The Bulldogs currently sit in second place out of 10 teams. Loyola was tabbed to finish seventh in the MVC preseason poll, but the Ramblers are in eighth place at the moment.
Despite the loss, Wallace said she thinks the team is capable of battling with any team in the conference. The Ramblers took No. 21 Missouri State University (23-4, 13-2) to overtime before losing to the Lady Bears 74-72 Jan. 3.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of upsets in our conference,” Wallace said after the loss. “We know we can compete with a lot of these teams, if not all of these teams in the conference.”
The Bulldogs entered the game ranked No. 29, according to the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) — a system that ranks all 351 Division I basketball teams based on wins, losses and strength of schedule. Loyola came in at No. 148 in the RPI.
Next, Loyola is scheduled to play the University of Northern Iowa March 1 at Gentile Arena. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. on ESPN+.