Hoops In the Heartland

Loyola Women’s Basketball Falls to Hot-Handed Illinois State in MVC Quarterfinals

Courtesy of the Missouri Valley Conference

In the quarterfinal matchup of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) tournament, No. 5 seed Loyola women’s basketball lost 68-52 to No. 4 seed Illinois State University (ISU) in its final MVC game. Loyola was doomed by Illinois State’s high-powered offense and Juliunn Redmond’s 27 points.

Illinois State won the tip-off to start the game, and were quick to put themselves on the board with a layup by Kate Bullman. Loyola responded with a pair of jumpers by graduate guard Bre Hampton-Bey and senior forward Allison Day, tying the game at 4-4.

Not long after, the Redbirds’ offense erupted for a 12-0 scoring run thanks in part to Juliunn Redmond, who drained four shots during the run. Meanwhile, Loyola shot just 14% from the floor and 0% from three-point distance in the quarter. At the end of the quarter, Illinois State led 16-4.

In the second quarter, Day put an end to the Redbirds’ scoring run with a jumper, cutting the Redbirds’ lead to 10. Shortly after, Loyola trimmed Illinois State’s lead to five with a three-pointer by sophomore guard Anna Brown and a layup by junior guard Jala Johnson.

After Day made a jumper to reduced Illinois State’s lead to two, the Redbirds drained a pair of three-pointers by Kayel Newland and Bullman to push their lead to eight. Much like the first quarter, Loyola’s offense sputtered to a halt, missing six-straight shots while experiencing a four-minute scoring drought. At halftime, Illinois State led 29-18. 

In the third quarter, Loyola struck first with a layup by Hampton-Bey to trim Illinois State’s lead to nine. After missing their first three shots of the quarter, the Redbirds responded with a layup by DeAnna Wilson and a three-pointer by Chloe Van Zeeland to lead by seven.

Illinois State’s momentum was short-lived as sophomore guard Maya Chandler drained a three-pointer and a jumper to cut the Redbirds’ lead to two. As Loyola’s offense once again ran out of gas, ISU struck back when Redmond knocked down two three-pointers and a layup. At the end of the quarter, the Redbirds led 42-33.

In the final quarter, Mary Crompton made a highlight play when she drained a three-pointer and converted the and-one opportunity, extending the Redbirds lead to 15. While ISU built their lead, Loyola’s offensive woes continued in the quarter, shooting just 33% from the floor. 

In the end, Illinois State beat Loyola 68-52. Illinois State was led to victory by its high-powered offense and its ability to shut down Loyola’s offense. 

ISU shot 44% from the floor and earned 18 points at the free-throw line, seven of which came from Maya Wong. Redmond led Illinois State’s scoring with 29 points while shooting 12-25 from the floor and 2-2 from three-point distance. Loyola head coach Kate Achter said Redmond is a confident shooter that her team couldn’t shut down. 

“She just stays consistent with her approach and I think she was able to take more shots over the course of the season compared to a year ago,” Achter said. “That gave her confidence and this was definitely a big moment today. She’s a competitor, and she’s their go-to.”

Loyola’s streaky offense couldn’t keep up with the Redbirds, shooting 32% from the floor and just 22% from three-point distance. Chandler led the Ramblers’ offense with 12 points while knocking down two three-pointers. Allison Day, Loyola’s leading scorer, was held to just seven points while shooting 3-10 from the floor.

Despite the loss, Achter said her team did a good job coming back from an early 16-4 lead, adding that she thinks her team can qualify for another postseason tournament. 

“The result isn’t what we wanted, but I couldn’t be more proud of the fight that we showed,” Achter said. “To start the game down 16-4 was less than ideal, but we fought our butts off. I think I’ve got a great basketball team and I think we’ve done a lot to position ourselves for some postseason play.”

Illinois State will go on to face No. 1 seed Southern Illinois in the MVC semifinal game March 12. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and the game is set to be broadcast on ESPN+.

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