On March 1, the Loyola women’s basketball team suffered a first-round exit in a loss to Duquesne University in the Atlantic 10 (A-10) Conference Championship, which signaled the end of the team’s inaugural season in the conference. The Ramblers finished last in the regular season with an overall record of 6-23 and a conference record of 1-15.
Ranked 13th out of 15 teams in the A-10 preseason poll, the team ended non-conference play with a record of 5-8. The Ramblers won their final game of the season against Saint Louis University Dec. 28, after which the team endured a 15-game losing streak.
Loyola finished the 2022-23 season with the second-worst scoring offense in the A-10, as they finished only above St. Bonaventure University with an average of 55.8 points per game. A 14th ranked field goal percentage of 36.4% combined with a 10th ranked three-point percentage of 26.9% highlighted scoring inconsistency. However, the team remained consistent in free throws, where they finished with a fourth best percentage of 74.4%.
According to Loyola Head Coach Allison Guth, one of the biggest factors that might have hindered the team’s success was the lack of physical presence in the post, as shown by a conference-last of 30.5 rebounds per game. Injuries during the season to several post players, specifically affecting senior forwards Emma Nolan, Sophia Nolan and Julia Hoefling, often left the team with limited post rotations.
Turnovers were less of an issue, with the team maintaining the sixth-highest turnover margin at 0.38, influenced by an average of 7.23 steals a game. Ball movement was another area in which the Ramblers, indicated by an 11th ranked average of 11.23 assists per game.
Despite the lone conference win, Loyola had several games late in the season where massive comebacks fell short, including its final matchup against Duquesne University, where the Ramblers lost by two points.
Junior forward Sitori Tanin, a member of this year’s A-10 All-Academic Team, spoke on how the team showed continued improvement, even if it wasn’t reflected in their record.
“When we look at the end of the season, we just had a lot of close games,” Tanin said. “Just our fight back, especially from a 20-point deficit or that point of the season, I think that showed our growth as a team.”
Looking beyond the results, Guth remains confident in her team and its ability to improve both as a team and record-wise by the time next season rolls around. She said she has three recruits that are yet to be announced that will offer immediate impact with their size.
The two confirmed departures include senior guard Maya Chandler and first-year guard Whitney Dunn — who both entered their names into the transfer portal. Chandler announced her departure on March 13 and Dunn a day later. However, senior guard Sam Galanopolous confirmed both she and fellow senior guard Anna Brown would be returning for the 2023-24 season.
In addition to recruiting, Guth’s coaching staff is complete and ready for next season, with Guth specifically lauding the addition of Assistant Sports Performance Coach Rich Kim, who joined the team in December after leaving the DePaul University women’s basketball program.
Galanopoulos said the efforts to transition both to the new conference and new coaching system have been extremely beneficial for the team.
“Our style of play isn’t gonna change,” Galanopolous said. “We know we can run the floor. We know we can play with pace. We know now that having a year under our belt will be that much better understanding different reads and stuff that took us a little longer to get acclimated to right away.”
Remaining positive, Guth took the time to thank the fans who supported the team through their rough times.
“We’re trying to earn that ability for our fan base to fall in love with our style of play,” Guth said. “For them to consistently show up for us without the product of the dubs — I just have a tremendous amount of respect for what we just signed up for, to feel that unconditional support. Believe me, we’re gonna deliver on putting an exciting product on the floor.”
Featured image courtesy of Steve Woltmann for Loyola Athletics