The Loyola women’s basketball team (7-5, 5-3) won five of its last six games entering the Feb. 5-6 series against Drake University. But the Bulldogs rolled past the Ramblers at Gentile Arena in the first game of the series, dominating Loyola 75-46 Feb. 5.
The 29-point loss is the largest of the year for Loyola and the worst for the Ramblers since falling to Missouri State University 84-49 Jan. 25, 2019. Loyola is now 1-15 against Drake in the all-time series between the two schools.
Drake jumped out to a 21-7 lead with just under two minutes remaining in the first quarter. But the Ramblers ended the period on a 7-1 run to keep the game from getting out of hand.
However, Loyola was unable to keep up with Drake in the second quarter. The Bulldogs rattled off an 18-3 run to start the quarter and distance themselves from Loyola. In total, the Bulldogs outscored Loyola 28-7 in the period to take a 29-point lead into halftime.
The Bulldogs scored 50 points in the first half, shooting 21-for-26 from the field. Drake dominated near the basket, scoring 34 points in the paint. Meanwhile, the Ramblers managed only 21 points in the first half on 8-for-34 shooting from the field. Loyola scored just four points in the paint in the half.
The Ramblers also were dominated on the boards in the first two quarters, with Drake out-rebounding the Ramblers 23-10.
Loyola head coach Kate Achter said the loss came down to the Ramblers getting outscored by 21 points in the second quarter.
“I think the box score says one thing and what we watched kind of unfold tonight says another,” Achter said. “We played three quarters of solid basketball, and the second quarter was really difficult for us.”
Drake outscored Loyola 47-39 in the other three quarters combined.
Drake continued its momentum in the second half even though the Bulldogs’ scoring slowed down compared to the first half. The two teams were even in the second half, with each squad scoring 25 points after halftime. The Bulldogs held their biggest lead of the game early in the fourth quarter, up 34 with 7:15 remaining in the game.
The loss moved the Ramblers from second to fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) standings, while the Bulldogs are now tied for second with Illinois State University.
Despite Loyola entering the game higher in the MVC standings, the Bulldogs were considerably higher in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings — which ranks all 343 Division I teams and is used to help determine at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. Drake came into the series No. 52 while Loyola was No. 140.
Despite the loss, Achter said she believes the team still played solid basketball but didn’t have enough energy to match Drake.
“Drake was Drake,” Achter said. “They go at such a good pace and they’re so good at what they do. But I was really pleased that we regrouped at halftime and found a way to come back out. We kept it even [in] the second half.”
Three Bulldogs scored in double figures, highlighted by redshirt sophomore forward Grace Berg’s 15 points. No Ramblers recorded double-digit points, but senior guard Ellie Rice and first-year forward Sitori Tanin were the closest with nine points each.
The Ramblers struggled without the presence of senior guard Bre Hampton-Bey on the court, who sat out Friday due to concussion protocol after an injury against Southern Illinois University Jan. 31. Hampton-Bey averages 9.8 points per game this season — the second-highest mark on the team.
Loyola is set to face Drake again Feb. 6 at Gentile Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. on ESPN+.