After improving to 3-2 following wins against Chicago State University Nov. 20 and the University of St. Francis Nov. 24, the Loyola women’s basketball team (4-2) hosted Miami University Ohio, winning 69-52 for its third straight home win.
Even after winning the tip-off, Miami couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity and missed its first three jump shots. The team finally made a shot to open up the game’s scoring after junior forward Tajah Foster-Walker made a layup.
The Redhawks didn’t shoot well during the first quarter, only scoring 10 points while shooting 23% from the floor. Loyola more than doubled the visitors’ scoring, shooting 50% from the floor.
After a layup by junior guard Sam Galanopoulos, Loyola drained shot after shot during a five minute stretch between the first and second quarters. The Ramblers knocked down nine straight baskets, including a pair of three-pointers from senior guard Janae Gonzales to extend their lead to 31-17.
In the rest of the second quarter, Miami clawed back to cut into Loyola’s lead, slashing the lead to seven with a free throw by sophomore guard Edyn Battle. However, the Redhawks’ response to Loyola’s high-powered offense faltered late in the half. After a scoring drought for Miami that lasted nearly five minutes to close the half, Loyola led 40-30 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Loyola’s defense stood the test of Miami’s potent offense, which averaged 71.5 points per game in their first four games of the season, only allowing 11 points in the quarter. While the Ramblers shut down the Redhawks’ offense, Loyola had its own offensive problems, shooting only 33% from the field throughout the quarter. Despite slowing down Loyola’s offense, the Redhawks still trailed the Ramblers 55-41 at the end of the half.
In the fourth quarter, the duo of junior forward Julia Hoefling and sophomore forward Sitori Tanin
had great chemistry, both knocking down layups to extend Loyola’s lead. Head coach Kate Achter said the pair succeeds because of their contrasting styles of play, with Hoefling playing well at the block while Tanin cuts towards the basket with ease.
“When you have that confidence in your teammates, and you know where they’re good, it’s easy to put them in positions to find success,” Achter said. “They do a really good job bouncing off of each other because their games are so different and teams have difficulty handling the two of them.”
Ultimately, the contributions of Hoefling’s seven points and Tanin’s ten points helped propel the Ramblers to a 69-52 victory.
Loyola was also led by a strong performance from senior forward Allison Day, who scored 20 points and shot 69% from the field while grabbing six rebounds. Achter said she enjoyed watching Day succeed offensively. She said key passes close to the rim, where Day excels, explains the four-year veteran’s success.
“It’s nice to see kids like Allison get it rolling,” Achter said. “We finally got her enough touches and enough shots inside, and she rebounded the basketball well.”
The Ramblers’ defense doomed Miami, limiting Peyton Scott and Ivy Wolf, the team’s two top scorers, to only six and eight points respectively. Galanopoulus said the team was focused on shutting down Scott and Wolf while ensuring the defense was talking to each other throughout the game.
“I don’t think we’ve ever talked this well ever on the defensive end for 40 minutes,” she said. “We pushed the pace when we needed to, we controlled what we needed to control, and we found each other on the other end.”
Galanopoulos also played a strong game, scoring 11 points while contributing four assists to the team’s offense. She said it was great to have a good offensive showing after shooting only 20% from the floor through the team’s first four games.
“I think, even though I haven’t shot the best [through] the beginning of the season, my coaches keep telling me to keep shooting,” Galanopoulos said. “Especially this game, I was just thinking be aggressive, jump on them early, try to get to the basket.”
After three straight wins at Gentile Arena, Galanopoulus said the win gives the team momentum before a two-game road trip. She said the team is more confident offensively and defensively.
“If we can stay tight like that on the defensive end, no one can score on us,” she said. “Offensively, I think we have a great flow and really find each other. When we find each other, we are at our best.”
The Ramblers are set to travel to face Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire Dec. 3. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN+.