March 15, 2013
Green Bay, Wis. - Simone Law scored a game-high 29 points and Loyola used a swarming defensive effort to cruise past Youngstown State, 72-45, in the semifinals of the Horizon League Championship tonight in Green Bay, Wis. The Ramblers (17-14) advance to the finals for the first time since the league conducted a four-team tournament in 1988-89 and will face the winner of No. 20 Green Bay and Detroit in Sunday afternoon's title game.
"I could not be more proud of this group," said head coach Eric Simpson. "We faced a lot of adversity this season but this group kept believing in themselves and kept playing together and good things have happened."
Loyola got off to a terrific start, riding Law's hot hand to an early 8-2 lead. The Ramblers defense was disrupting Youngstown State's offensive rhythm and Loyola's offense began to click midway through the half. Monica Albano fed Law for a lay-up to make it a 14-6 lead and the bucket kickstarted a 16-2 run over a 6:20 span that gave the Ramblers some breathing room and a 28-8 advantage with just over four minutes left in the half. Law and Taylor Johnson accounted for all 16 points in the run but it was Ayrealle Beavers who scored Loyola's last four points of the period as LU took a 32-17 lead into intermission. Loyola held YSU to just 25% (7 of 28) shooting in the half and forced nine turnovers.
After shooting 1-of-11 from the three-point line in the opening 20 minutes, Youngstown State knocked down a pair from the arc early in the second half to get within 11 (36-25). However, Albano had a pair of triples in a 15-1 Loyola run that bumped the lead to 24 (50-26) and the Ramblers cruised from there, leading by as many as 30 before closing out the 72-45 win.
"It is great to be a part of a team that plays as together as we are playing and has the type of chemistry that we have," said Law. "We have a chance to make history and we are hungry for that opportunity."
Law finished 12-of-18 from the floor for her 29 points and added seven rebounds to lead the Ramblers. Johnson added 19 points and Albano also reached double figures, scoring all 10 of her points in the second half.
The Ramblers split the season series with Detroit and lost both regular season meetings with Green Bay, including a three-point setback in Gentile Arena in early February. The title game will tip at Noon and be televised live on ESPNU.