For the first time since the 2017-18 season, the Loyola women’s basketball team (2-3, 0-1) suffered a defeat at the hands of Indiana State University. The Ramblers fell to the Sycamores 63-48 at Gentile Arena Jan. 1 to kick-off Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play.
This was Loyola’s lowest scoring output of the season. The Ramblers fell to 2-36 when they scored fewer than 50 points under head coach Kate Achter. As a team, the Ramblers shot a season-low 28 percent from the field. Coming into the game, Loyola’s previous low was 41.1 percent in a loss to Central Michigan University Dec. 21.
Loyola will get another shot at Indiana State (4-2, 1-0) less than 24 hours after the loss, when the teams face-off again Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. in Gentile Arena. These two back-to-back games are a result of the MVC altering its scheduling to limit travel due to COVID-19.
The Ramblers now trail the all-time series against the Sycamores 13-8. The Ramblers had won four consecutive games against Indiana State before the Jan. 1 loss.
Loyola was picked to finish eighth out of 10 teams in the MVC preseason poll, while Indiana State came in at ninth. Just four points separated the two teams in the poll — the smallest margin between any two teams.
Achter said she thought her team’s lack of intensity was one of the biggest reasons for the loss and needs to improve for the second game against the Sycamores.
“I’m pretty disappointed with the outcome and our effort today,” Achter said. “I felt like more often than not we were coaching effort and toughness today, and it’s really hard to win basketball games when you do that.”
For the first time this season, Achter changed her starting lineup. She inserted senior guard Bre Hampton-Bey into the starting five in place of sophomore guard Sam Galanopoulos. This was Hampton-Bey’s third game with Loyola after transferring from the University of Massachusetts over the summer. She recently became eligible when the NCAA granted waivers to most Division I transfers.
Hampton-Bey finished with 12 points on 2-for-8 shooting and six rebounds. She did most of her damage in the first half, scoring 10 of her points in the first two quarters.
Loyola started the game on an 8-1 run but went on a four-minute scoreless stretch in the middle of the first quarter. The Sycamores led 17-14 after the opening period.
The Ramblers had another scoreless stretch — this time more than five minutes long — in the middle of the second quarter, and Loyola finished with only seven total points in the period. However, the Sycamores didn’t capitalize on Loyola’s offensive struggles, scoring only nine points in the quarter to lead the Ramblers 26-21 at halftime.
In the first half, Loyola shot 6-for-25 from the field — including 1-for-10 in the second quarter.
Achter said she liked the shots Loyola was taking despite the shooting struggles. She also credited Indiana State’s physical defense for making things difficult in the paint.
“I just thought our lead guards missed a lot of opportunities,” Achter said. “We’d set a ball screen and we’d roll, and we couldn’t get the post the ball. Now, some of that was the aggressiveness of ball-screen defense, but that’s something we see every day.”
The Ramblers’ offense improved in the third quarter, scoring 15 points on 4-for-10 shooting and 7-for-8 from the free throw line. Loyola got within a single point of the Sycamores with 1:49 remaining in the third quarter. However, Indiana State ended the period on a 4-0 run to lead the Ramblers by five points heading into the final quarter.
Indiana State continued that momentum with a 9-3 run to start the fourth quarter and balloon their lead to double digits for the first time in the game.
Allison Day was the highest scoring Rambler, finishing with 14 points on 4-for-9 shooting, but Achter said she hopes to get the junior forward more involved in the offense for the second matchup against the Sycamores.
Achter mentioned limiting fouls as a focus heading into the second matchup. The Ramblers had a season-high 21 fouls in the first game against Indiana State.
Turnovers were a problem for both teams. Loyola finished with 21 giveaways, its second-highest mark of the season. Indiana State turned the ball over 17 times.
“The first two passes of our offense are when we’re turning the ball over,” Achter said. “We have to initiate our offense much more efficiently. We’ve got to make better pass entries and catch it in scoring areas so we can be some kind of scoring threat.”
The Ramblers and Sycamores are scheduled to meet again Jan. 2 at Gentile Arena. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. on ESPN3.