Nov. 11, 2012
PHILADELPHIA - Loyola opened the second half with a decisive 16-3 run and claimed its first win of the season with a 56-50 triumph over La Salle this afternoon at Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia, Pa. The Ramblers earn a split on their season-opening trip to Pennsylvania.
"I am really proud of how we battled today," said head coach Eric Simpson. "Even though we did not shoot the ball particularly well I was pleased with how we took care of the ball and finished defensive possessions with rebounds. It is always nice to get the first win under our belt and we look forward to our first home game of the year next weekend."
Loyola got off to a slow start on the offensive end today, missing its first six shots and eventually falling behind 11-5 after the opening five minutes. The home team took its largest lead of the half (16-8) at the 13:05 mark before Loyola began to chip away. Two Monica Albano free throws and an Ayrealle Beavers jumper cut the margin to four and it was a 19-16 game later after a Lauren Hibbard basket. Three buckets from Simone Law sliced the La Salle lead to one (23-22) with 7:01 left but both teams would go cold the rest of the way with the Explorers taking a 27-22 lead into halftime. After shooting 17% in the second half on Friday night, Loyola shot just 24% (8 of 33) in the opening period today.
Taylor Johnson nailed a pull-up jumper to open the scoring in the second half and Loyola seemed to get in a groove from there. A three-point play from Molly Crosby tied the game at 27 and Patrice King followed with two free throws to give LU its first lead of the game. The Ramblers kept pushing and Crosby capped the half-opening spurt with a rebound basket to give Loyola a 38-30 lead. La Salle scored the next five points to pull within three but Beavers buried a triple and followed with a traditional three-point play to bump the lead to nine with 9:17 to go. The lead peaked at 13 (52-39) on a Lyndsey Booker basket and the Ramblers still held a 13-point lead with 2:30 left before a furious final push from La Salle.
An Ebonee Jones basket cut the lead to 52-45 with 1:51 left but a Johnson free throw gave LU a seemingly comfortable 53-45 lead with 90 seconds to play. However, a three-pointer and two free throws made it a three-point game with 56 ticks left before Johnson picked up a loose ball for a lay-up with 21 seconds left to make it a two-possession game again at 55-50. The freshman added another free throw following a La Salle miss to account for the final score.
Albano and Law (nine rebounds) led the way for Loyola with 11 points apiece, as the Ramblers finished at just 28% shooting for the game. King finished with nine points and nine boards while Johnson and Beavers (five assists) scored eight points each.
Loyola returns home and has nearly a week to prepare for its home opener next Saturday night against Southern Illinois. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Gentile Arena.