Feb. 13, 2013
CHICAGO - Simone Law led three Ramblers in double figures with a game-high 19 points as Loyola was able to grind out a 68-58 win over Valparaiso tonight at Gentile Arena. Loyola (9-13, 4-5 Horizon) earns a season sweep of the Crusaders for the first time, sending Valpo to 8-14 (3-6).
"It was nice to come out and protect our home court tonight," said head coach Eric Simpson. "I was pleased of how well we played, in spurts, tonight. We have finally had our core group together here over the last week and are showing some signs of playing as well as I know we can."
Both teams got off to slow starts offensively and back-to-back baskets from Law gave Loyola a 10-6 lead nearly halfway through the period. Valpo rattled off six straight points minutes later to grab a 17-14 lead and VU still held a 21-18 lead as the Ramblers struggled to find consistency on the offensive end. A Monica Albano three-pointer drew the Ramblers even at 21 and it seemed to get LU going, as the home team closed the half on a 16-4 run to take a 34-25 into the break. Katie Faught, who scored a career-high 12 points in the first meeting between the teams this season, gave Loyola a big lift down the stretch, knocking down a pair of threes and scoring eight of the 16 points in the run.
Valpo scored the first five points of the second half to cut into its deficit and while Loyola was able to rebuild a nine-point edge, it was unable to extend it. A Charae Richardson three-pointer less than five minutes into the half made it a four-point game and the Crusaders pulled within a point (46-45) on a Jessi Wiedemann triple with 9:51 left. Albano hit a long two then knocked down a three to help Loyola get the lead back to eight but the Ramblers just could not find a bucket to get it up to double figures. Valpo used four straight Richardson points to get back within three (56-53) at the 4:30 mark but the Ramblers buckled down the rest of the way.
A three-point play from Law immediately pushed the lead back to six and an Albano trey finally gave LU a double-digit lead (64-53) with 2:32 to play as the Ramblers defense held Valpo scoreless for a key 3:13 stretch to put the game away.
Law and Albano combined for 23 points in the second half, finishing with 19 and 14 points, respectively, to lead the Ramblers. Taylor Johnson narrowly missed a double-double, finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Troy Hambric had another solid game, racking up seven points, nine boards and a career-high six blocks.
Loyola looks for its third-straight win on Saturday when it travels to Wright State for a 5 p.m. CT contest.