The Loyola women’s basketball team (2-2) lost 73-64 to Central Michigan University Dec. 21 at Gentile Arena. Junior forward Allison Day led the Ramblers with 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting in the losing effort.
Loyola head coach Kate Achter praised her team for battling Central Michigan — who’s won the Mid-American regular season title the last four years.
“I’m disappointed for our kids because I thought we did some nice things, we executed and got some point-blank opportunities and we just couldn’t finish them,” Achter said. “I do think that’s evidence that we need some more time together and we need to play some more games. But glass-half-full approach here, we’re getting those looks.”
The Chippewas only held a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter despite shooting 6-for-12 from three-point territory in the quarter while Loyola was 1-for-5 from downtown.
The Ramblers trailed 41-34 at halftime. Senior guard Ellie Rice and Day each scored 10 first-half points for Loyola. Rice finished the game with 15 points and six rebounds.
Senior guard Bre Hampton-Bey was the third Rambler to reach double figures, finishing with 12 points and five rebounds in her second appearance for Loyola this season after transferring from the University of Massachusetts.
“Being out there with a good team and competing with Central Michigan [felt good],” Hampton-Bey said. “I thought everything flowed and nothing was forced. … We definitely put on a fight tonight.”
The second half was closer, with Central Michigan outscoring Loyola 32-30 after halftime.
After hitting six three-pointers in the first quarter, Central Michigan only made five more the rest of the game, finishing 11-for-28 from downtown.
Achter said she knew the Chippewas had good shooters and her defensive game plan was to limit Central Michigan’s outside shooting and force contested two-point attempts.
“You don’t often lose games if you [force teams into two-point shots] because the three-pointer is the great equalizer in college basketball,” Achter said. “[Central Michigan is] just so good that they were able to get down there in traffic and find kids to make shots.”
Achter said a few of the Chippewas’ three-pointers were defensive breakdowns, but she also said fixing that is an easy adjustment of understanding defensive rotations better.
While both Loyola and Central Michigan committed 11 turnovers each, the Chippewas capitalized on these opportunities much better than the Ramblers. Central Michigan scored 18 points following a Loyola turnover, meanwhile Loyola managed just four points after a Chippewa turnover.
Central Michigan was picked to finish first out of 12 teams in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) preseason poll. Along with holding the MAC regular-season title for the last four years, the Chippewas return the reigning MAC Player of the Year in senior guard Micaela Kelly.
Against Loyola, Kelly finished with a game-high 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting to go with five rebounds and two assists.
The Ramblers were tabbed to come in eighth out of 10 teams in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) preseason poll.
The last time Loyola and Central Michigan met was Dec. 1, 2016 during Achter’s first season at Loyola. The Chippewas dominated the Ramblers 95-57 in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
This was Loyola’s last game on the schedule before MVC play and Achter said she thinks the non-conference slate served its purpose of getting the team ready to play MVC teams. She said her goal coming into the season was to get four non-conference games. She achieved that, leading Loyola to wins over Chicago State University and Purdue University Northwest and losses to DePaul University and Central Michigan.
“I do think opponents like Central Michigan and DePaul have prepared us for conference,” Achter said. “This wasn’t the exact layout we thought we were going to get, but I do think our non-conference schedule did its job. … The short preparation prepares us for conference is when we have back-to-back [games].”
The Ramblers are scheduled to start MVC play Jan. 1 against Indiana State University at Gentile Arena. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m.