After a 63-46 win Jan. 7 against Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) rival Drake University, the Loyola women’s basketball team (9-6, 1-3) fell 58-54 to the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Jan. 9 — largely due to the Ramblers’ defensive woes.
The Panthers were powered by an offensive revival late in the game, improving their shooting from 35% from the floor in the first half to 50% from the floor in the second half — while knocking down 15 free throws to put the game out of reach.
Loyola won the tip-off to start the game, the Ramblers were then quick to put themselves on the board with a layup by graduate guard Bre Hampton-Bey to open up the score.
After Loyola jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, Northern Iowa responded with a pair of three-pointers to lead by two. Meanwhile, Loyola’s offense faltered in the latter half of the first quarter, shooting 33% from the floor while experiencing a scoring drought for 2 ½ minutes.
In the second quarter, Loyola’s offensive woes continued as the Ramblers missed their first four shots of the quarter. The Panthers kept the momentum up, extending their lead to nine after a pair of free throws.
Loyola junior forward Julia Hoefling helped the Ramblers claw back with a pair of layups, cutting Northern Iowa’s lead to five.
Following a two-point jumper by UNI, Loyola sophomore forward Sitori Tanin and senior forward Allison Day both scored a pair of layups to put Loyola on a 8-0 scoring run. A highlight play came when Tanin stole the ball from the Panthers, leading to a layup by Day. Loyola led Northern Iowa 22-21 at the half.
In the third quarter, both teams excelled offensively, with Loyola shooting 45% from the floor while Northern Iowa shot 50% from the floor. After grabbing a defensive rebound, Hampton-Bey made the team’s only three-pointer of the game to extend Loyola’s lead to eight.
The Ramblers led for most of the quarter until Northern Iowa bounced back thanks to seven points from Karli Rucker, at the end of the quarter Northern Iowa led 39-37.
The final quarter of the game continued to be an offensive thriller with thirteen lead changes. Hoefling and Tanin kept Loyola in the game, scoring six and five points respectively. Despite Loyola’s effort, Rucker’s terrific half continued with nine points in the quarter, five of which came from the free-throw line in the final minute of the game.
In the end, the Ramblers fell to the Panthers 58-54 despite shooting 46% from the floor in the game. Loyola’s offense failed to respond late in the game, missing three crucial shots in the final minute of the fourth quarter.
Loyola head coach Kate Achter said she was pleased with her team’s performance against Drake — in which sophomore guard Maya Chandler’s 16 points lifted Loyola to victory — and Northern Iowa this weekend. However she recognizes that she didn’t do enough with play calling to feed the ball to Day and Hoefling close to the basket while also making mistakes defensively.
“I thought we had some opportunities late where we made some defensive mistakes and kudos to UNI for their execution,” Achter said. “As always, a really good learning opportunity for us going forward.”
Achter said Hoefling stood out in the loss, scoring 11 points and serving as a complement to Day’s force in the paint. She said Hoefling’s success takes defensive pressure off of Day, making it easier for her to serve as a reliable piece in her offense.
“In the last two games, when we’ve needed big buckets, Julia has been the one to give them to us,” Achter said. “If we can get even a margin of this production from her and Allison, we will continue to be really, really good.”
Before Loyola’s two-game road trip, Achter said she can rely on her defense while empowering players to take their best shots, adding that the team plans to work on giving players like Day and Hampton-Bey open looks to succeed in future close game situations.
The Ramblers are set to travel to Peoria, Illinois to take on Bradley University Jan. 13. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the game is set to be broadcast on ESPN3.