For the first time in program history, the Loyola women’s basketball team is participating in postseason basketball. The Ramblers are scheduled to take on Stetson University in the opening round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) March 19 at 1:30 p.m. in Frankfurt, Kentucky.
Loyola ended the year in sixth place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) standings but reached the MVC Tournament semifinals for the first time since joining the conference prior to the 2013-14 season. Despite the conference tournament quarterfinal win, the Ramblers have won just one of their last seven games to end the season. Loyola finished with an 11-13 record, including going 8-10 in the MVC in the regular season.
Stetson finished the season with a 9-13 record, including going 7-9 in the regular season in the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) to finish fifth in the conference standings. The Hatters lost in overtime to Lipscomb University in the quarterfinals of the ASUN Tournament. This year’s WBI will be the Hatters’ 10th postseason appearance in the last 11 seasons.
By the Numbers
Loyola enters the eight-team WBI as the best team, according to the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET). The Ramblers are ranked No. 147 out of 343 Division I schools in the NET, while Stetson is No. 273.
Loyola should have a sizable advantage on the boards, with the Ramblers having a rebounding margin of 1.5 — meaning they grab 1.5 more rebounds per game than their opponents. Meanwhile, the Hatters have a rebounding margin of -5.4 — meaning they grab 5.4 fewer rebounds per contest than their opponents.
While rebounding isn’t one of its strengths, Stetson excels in forcing turnovers and taking care of the ball. Similar to rebounding margin where a positive number is good and a negative number is bad, the Hatters have a turnover margin of 1.91, while the Ramblers are at -1.17.
Despite not forcing as many turnovers per game, the Ramblers were usually carried by their defense this year. Playing at a slower pace and trying to force teams into long offensive possessions, the Ramblers allowed just 59.7 points per game — the 60th best mark in the country.
While their defense ranked among the better in the country, Loyola’s offense was on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Ramblers ranked No. 282 in the nation in points per game, averaging 58.5 this season.
Stetson ranked in the middle of the pack in both scoring offense and defense, putting up 63.6 points on offense and giving up 64.3 points on defense.
Players to Watch
Allison Day — Junior forward, Loyola
Day was named to the First Team All-MVC this season after leading Loyola with 11.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest. Day also had a strong showing in Loyola’s two games in the MVC Tournament, averaging 18.5 points on 62.5 percent shooting.
Yazz Wazeerud-Din — Junior guard, Stetson
After leading the Hatters with 15.5 points and 2.4 steals per game, Wazeerud-Din was named to the Second Team All-ASUN. Out of the 22 appearances this season, she scored in double figures 18 times. Wazeerud-Din scored a season-high 30 points in a nine-point win over the University of North Alabama Feb. 13.
Jamiya Turner — Sophomore guard, Stetson
Turner has the second-highest scoring average on the Hatters, recording 10.3 points per game. However, Turner was held to just a single point in Stetson’s quarterfinal loss to Lipscomb. Turner also leads the Hatters with 2.6 assists per game.
Ellie Rice — Senior guard, Loyola
Rice was honored as an All-MVC honorable mention. Often guarding the opposition’s best perimeter player, Rice also contributed 10.3 points per game on offense. Her scoring acumen was on display in the Ramblers’ loss to Bradley University in the MVC Tournament semifinals. Rice finished with 17 points against the Braves, including 11 in the fourth quarter alone.
The Ramblers and Hatters are scheduled to tip-off March 19 at 1:30 p.m. The game is slated to be streamed on Prepspin.