Dec. 5, 2012
CHICAGO - Visiting Western Illinois ended the game on a 20-7 run to escape with a 65-61 win over Loyola tonight at Gentile Arena. Freshman Taylor Johnson scored a team-high 16 points for the Ramblers, who drop to 3-4 with the loss, while the Leathernecks even their record at 4-4 with the win.
"Obviously this is a very disappointing loss for us," said head coach Eric Simpson. "We shot 37% from the floor and 40% at the foul line and its tough to win games shooting like that."
After spotting Western Illinois the first seven points of the game, Loyola used buckets from four different players to take the lead. Six points from Johnson keyed a 9-2 run midway through the half that gave the Ramblers a 23-19 lead and another Johnson basket later gave LU its largest lead of the period, 30-24, with just over two minutes left. The Leathernecks scored the next three points but Lyndsey Booker capped a terrific first half off the bench with a basket to give the home team a 32-27 lead at halftime. Despite shooting only 38%, Loyola rode a strong defensive effort to its halftime lead, holding WIU to just 28% (9 of 32) in the opening 20 minutes.
Loyola was able to maintain its lead throughout the first 10 minutes of the second half, as neither team was able to get into an offensive rhythm. Back-to-back three-pointers from Monica Albano and Patrice King gave LU a seemingly comfortable 51-41 lead with 8:28 to play and Albano buried another trey later to make it a 54-45 game with just over six minutes to go.
Four Western Illinois free throws sliced Loyola's lead to five before Saule Kontautaite caught fire from the arc, knocking down three triples to give WIU a 58-56 lead with 2:22 left. The Ramblers came up empty on their next two possessions and the Leathernecks hit four more free throws to up the margin to six (62-56) at the 1:24 mark. King kept Loyola closed with another three-pointer and, after a turnover, Johnson hit a jumper to cut the deficit to one with 39 seconds left. However, Kontautaite scored on the ensuing possession to boost the lead back to three and Johnson missed a game-tying three-pointer with less than 10 seconds left as Western Illinois secured the road win.
Johnson led Loyola with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists while King added 12 points and Booker finished with 10 points and a career-best nine rebounds in 34 minutes off the bench. Simone Law finished with six points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
Loyola hits the road for a Saturday game at Nebraska Omaha. Tip off is set for 2 p.m.