Women's Basketball

Loyola Finishes Week at Seventh Place in MVC

Steve Woltmann | Loyola AthleticsGraduate forward Riley Blackwell dribbles past Bradley players at Gentile Arena Feb. 12.

The Loyola women’s basketball team spent its past two games facing off against the first-place and last-place teams in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). With six games left in the regular season, the Ramblers currently sit at seventh place in the MVC standings. 

Thursday Feb. 10

After two straight losses on the road, Loyola fell to 57-53 to Illinois State University — largely due to Loyola’s poor shooting and 25 personal fouls.

The Redbirds were led by their high-energy offense, which averages 66.6 points per game. Illinois State leads the MVC in field goal percentage and three-point shooting percentage with 45% and 36%, respectively. In games where the Redbirds score 60 points or more, Illinois State is 12-4 so far this season.

Illinois State won the tip-off to start the game, but the Redbirds were unable to score first. Loyola senior forward Allison Day put up the first points of the game with a three-pointer as the shot clock expired.

A highlight play came when junior guard Sam Galanopoulos and sophomore forward Sitori Tanin executed a ball screen where Galanopoulos was double-covered, giving Tanin a clear path to the hoop off a difficult feed through the coverage. 

After Loyola led 13-5, Illinois State clawed back to tie the game after Juliunn Redmond converted a three-point opportunity at the free-throw line and Kenzie Bowers made a layup on a fast break. At the end of the quarter, Loyola led 18-13. 

In the second quarter, Loyola’s defense caused problems for Illinois State when Day’s pressure on DeAnna Wilson caused a three-second violation in the paint. Both offenses remained quiet until Galanopoulos knocked down a pair of free throws following an Illinois State foul on sophomore guard Maya Chandler.

After a two-minute scoring drought, graduate guard Bre Hampton-Bey was able to put Loyola back on top 26-25 with a long jumper from the corner. The Ramblers extended their lead after Day made a layup off an inbound pass as time expired in the quarter, finishing with a score of 28-25 at the half. 

In the third quarter, Illinois State struck first with a layup by Redmond to cut Loyola’s lead to one. The Ramblers responded with a pair of jumpers by Day and Chandler to extend Loyola’s lead to four. 

After Day knocked down a pair of free throws, Hampton-Bey prevented a scoring chance with a steal off Redmond close to the basket. Following Loyola’s continued defensive pressure, Illinois State ended a five-minute scoring drought with a layup by Jasmine McGinnis-Taylor to cut Loyola’s lead to four. 

Loyola junior guard Jala Johnson’s steal in the final minute of the quarter set up a fast break opportunity that ended in a layup by Tanin as time expired. At the end of the quarter, Loyola led 41-35.

In the fourth quarter, the Ramblers’ foul troubles continued as Hampton-Bey committed Loyola’s 16th personal foul of the game after a missed shot, giving the Redbirds possession. 

Leading by two points with under thirty seconds to play, the Redbirds’ Maya Wong converted a free throw to increase Illinois State’s lead to four. The Ramblers missed three shots in the final minute until graduate forward Riley Blackwell made a layup to cut Illinois State’s lead to two.

In the end, the Ramblers couldn’t mount a late-game comeback, falling to the Redbirds 57-53. Loyola’s offense failed to respond to Illinois State’s fourth-quarter resurgence, shooting just 29% from the floor and 33% from three-point distance.

Day, who typically leads Loyola’s offense, was held to nine points while shooting 20% from the floor. Loyola head coach Kate Achter said her team didn’t do a good job converting at the rim and missed out on several chances for free throws.

“We got plenty of touches late and at the basket where I thought we should either have gotten a foul or converted the layup,” Achter said. “I thought what we were running was really good, and we had a couple of missed opportunities where we couldn’t quite get it going.”

Loyola’s bench kept the team in the game with 21 points, making up for the team’s starters shooting just 26% from the floor. The team’s depth is crucial as they move into the latter half of MVC play, Achter said. 

“Right now, we’ve got to have everyone be as confident as they can be,” Achter said. “It’s showing why a deep bench wins basketball games in February because everyone’s tired. I’d like the production to pick up, but tonight I’m pleased when we have 21 points from three kids.”

Redmond led Illinois State offensively with 16 points, shooting 50% from the floor and knocking down six free throws, coming up just three points shy of joining the Redbirds’ 1,000-point club. Wilson was held to eight points after averaging 13.6 points per game this season. 

Achter said she planned her game around shutting down Wilson, making it hard for her to score on the inside. She added that her team was hurt by a surprise performance by McGinnis-Taylor, who scored seven while shooting 75% from the floor. 

“It was almost an emergency plan if she started to go off again, and we stuck to our game plan from the first time really well for us and made it hard for her on the inside,” she said. “I thought they had some bonus points from McGinnis-Taylor which hurt us, seven points from her are x-factor points.”

Steve Woltmann | Loyola Athletics Senior forward Allison Day attempts to shoot the ball against Illinois State’s defense Feb. 10.

Saturday Feb. 12

After three straight losses, Loyola’s women’s basketball team ended the streak with a 56-41 win at home against Bradley University Feb. 12.

Bradley started with the ball, but Loyola was the first to score with two free throws from junior forward Julia Hoefling. The Braves were able to put their first points on the board shortly after with a three point jumper from Caroline Waite. 

Loyola then trailed Bradley until a three-point shot from sophomore guard Maya Chandler tied the game at 7-7 in the sixth minute of the quarter. From there, the Ramblers gained some momentum and ended the first quarter on top with a score of 12-9. 

The second quarter was a back and forth game until the final seconds, when a layup from graduate guard Bre Hampton-Bey put Loyola up 23-19 going into the half. 

Throughout the first half, both the Braves and the Ramblers fought neck and neck to get the ball — Loyola tallying 23 rebounds and Bradley recording 18. Additionally, both teams capitalized on the other’s turnovers, with Loyola scoring seven points from Bradley’s six turnovers and Bradley scoring 10 points from Loyola’s nine turnovers. 

The second half of the game began with a three-point shot from Bradley’s Chloe Rice, and both teams fell back into a back-and-forth pattern again. 

Loyola quickly built up a rhythm and went on a 6-0 run during the third quarter. Head coach Kate Achter said her team was able to get on top by slowing the game down. 

“The big adjustment at halftime we made was to slow it down,” said Achter. “Because we were chasing them around, we didn’t want to burn ourselves out.”

A major contributor to the Ramblers’ offense at this point was graduate forward Riley Blackwell, who put ten points on the board in the third quarter alone. 

“My teammates and my coaches had confidence in me,” Blackwell said. “When I hit one, they kept coming back to me and finding me when I was open.”

The fourth quarter saw Loyola’s offense and defense continue to dominate. Right out of the gate, senior guard Janae Gonzales shot a three point jump shot to give the Ramblers its biggest lead of the game at 18 points. 

Blackwell continued to find the net with another three-pointer, putting her at 15 points for the game. With this, the Ramblers held on to secure a 56-41 win against Bradley. 

The final game of the Ramblers’ current home stretch will be Feb. 15 at Gentile Arena when Loyola will face Indiana State University. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. and the game is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN 3. 

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