Women's Basketball

Overcoming First-Game Jitters, Loyola Women’s Basketball Dominates Detroit Mercy

Steve Woltmann | Loyola AthleticsJanae Gonzalez drives to the basket in Loyola’s 63 - 40 in Loyola’s season opener win.

In its first game of the 2021-2022 regular season, the Loyola women’s basketball team (1-0) secured a victory over the University of Detroit Mercy 63-40 to notch its first win of the season. 

Loyola kicked off the first quarter of the season with two points after graduate guard Bre Hampton-Bey knocked down both of her free throws. After a layup by Titans sophomore forward Irene Murua, Loyola hit its first three-pointer of the year with a corner-three by senior guard Janae Gonzales to extend the Ramblers’ lead to three. 

Three-pointers lifted Loyola to a 15-9 lead by the end of the quarter, with nine of Loyola’s points coming from beyond the arc. The Ramblers’ defense also caused problems for the Titans, forcing seven turnovers that created 11 points for Loyola. 

In the second quarter, Murua made a jump-shot to cut Loyola’s lead to four. Her shot 31 seconds into the quarter was the only made field goal by either team until Loyola senior forward Allison Day’s layup with just under six minutes left in the quarter. 

While the Ramblers maintained their lead, the Titans committed eight personal fouls giving Loyola chances to score while shutting down opportunities at their own end of the court. 

The Ramblers took advantage of Detroit Mercy’s fouls by tacking on four points to their lead at the free-throw line. As the Ramblers built their lead to 26-16 at halftime, the Titans’ offense couldn’t keep up. Detroit Mercy shot only 7-20 for 35% from the field while shooting 1-5 from three-point territory.

Noting her team’s struggle slowing down the Titans’ offense in the half-court, head coach Kate Achter said she had to make changes to her strategies at halftime. She said she wanted her team to play better in transitions while picking up the momentum.

“It felt a little bit like they weren’t expecting Detroit to play as hard as they did,” Achter said. “I thought Detroit played hard and challenged us. My challenge at halftime was for the team to exceed their energy.”

In the third quarter, the Ramblers rose to meet Achter’s challenge by extending their lead to 12 starting with a layup by Hampton-Bey. After Titans’ graduate student guard Sydney Searcy made her free throws, the Ramblers answered with two layups by sophomore guard Maya Chandler. 

Much like the first half, Detroit Mercy’s struggle with turnovers and fouls continued — the team lost the ball four times while committing five personal fouls. The Titans’ mistakes created seven points for the Ramblers in the third quarter.

In the final quarter, the Ramblers put the hammer down on the Titans. Sophomore forward Sitori Tanin hit a pair of shots in the paint while Gonzales drained her fourth three-pointer of the game to extend Loyola’s lead to 16. 

Detroit Mercy had the chance to cut into Loyola’s lead after a foul by Hampton-Bey but Titans’ sophomore guard Lucia Fleta Robles missed both free throws. Ultimately, the Ramblers never gave up their lead, thumping the Titans 63-40.

Loyola was propelled to victory with 50% shooting from the field and 38.9% from 3-point territory overall. Gonzales led the team in scoring with 14 points and 50% shooting from three-point distance. Achter said she was proud of Gonzales’s performance and loves that she is playing hard for the team. 

“I’m as proud as anybody on this roster about her investment this season,” Achter said. “She’s really bought in and is willing to do whatever it takes to win basketball games and that’s made our locker room really strong.”

Chandler also excelled offensively by shooting 4-4 from the field for 10 points. Contributing to the team’s lockdown defense, Hampton-Bey had five steals in the win. She said she was trying to disrupt the Titans’ offense and prevent any scoring chances.

“I was trying to stay active,” Hampton-Bey said. “I just thought getting in gaps was our game plan just to be a pest on the defensive end.”

Fans were back in Gentile Arena for the first time in over a year for women’s basketball, something Gonzales said made a huge impact on the game’s outcome. 

“A year ago we didn’t have any fans, we had a bunch of cardboard people,” she said. “The crowd was amazing and really feeds into all of our energy.”

The Ramblers are set to travel down the Red Line to face DePaul University Nov. 12. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game is set to be broadcast on FloSports BIG EAST Digital Network.

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