Loyola Opens 2013 At Home Against Eastern Illinois

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Jan. 1, 2013

Eastern Illinois (6-6) at Loyola (4-7)
Wed., Jan. 2 • 7 p.m.
Chicago, Ill. • Gentile Arena

Loyola Game NotesGet Acrobat Reader

Ramblings
• Loyola opens calendar year 2013 when it hosts Eastern Illinois tonight at Gentile Arena
• Tonight's game is the second of three this week for the Ramblers in their busiest week of the non-conference season
• Tonight is the 14th meeting between the two schools with Eastern Illinois holding a slight 7-6 edge in the all-time series
• The Panthers are the second Ohio Valley Conference opponent this season for Loyola. The Ramblers knocked off Northern Kentucky (77-65) here on Nov. 21
• Loyola was outrebounded 59-27 in a 77-61 setback at Marquette last Saturday. Monica Albano (19 points) and Simone Law (11 points, seven rebounds) led LU
• The Ramblers, who were picked fourth in the Horizon League Preseason Poll, return four starters from last year's team including Preseason All-Horizon League Second Team picks Simone Law and Patrice King

Head Coach Eric Simpson
In his fourth season at the helm, Eric Simpson has a lot of weapons at his disposal as the Ramblers, with a talented group of veterans and newcomers, look to move up the Horizon League standings. Simpson put together the best season of any first-year Loyola coach in 2009-10, leading the Ramblers to a 15-15 mark with a senior-laden squad, and this year's team returns its top five scorers from last year. Simpson graduated from Northwestern in 1994 with a degree in history and brings a career record of 44-58 (.431) into today's game. He has never coached against Eastern Illinois and is 2-0 (1.000) all-time against Ohio Valley Conference foes

Loyola/Eastern Illinois - The Series
Tonight is the 14th meeting between the two schools with Eastern Illinois holding a slight 7-6 advantage in the all-time series. The teams met five consecutive years from 2000-04 but have only faced off once since then, a 70-52 EIU win in Charleston on Dec. 1, 2007 that snapped Loyola's five-game winning streak in the series. The Ramblers have won four of the five meetings in the Windy City and have not lost to the Panthers here since Jan. 30, 1981

Fabulous Freshman To Super Sophomore
Sophomore post Simone Law made an immediate impact last season, giving the Ramblers a presence in the paint, and has continued to play at a high level early this year. A member of the 2011-12 Horizon League All-Newcomer Team and a Preseason All-Horizon League Second Team choice this fall, Law became the first freshman in program history to lead the team in both scoring (13.9 ppg) and rebounding (7.2) last season and she is pacing the Ramblers in both categories again in the early going this year (12.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg). Law left the Western Illinois game with a concussion that forced her to miss one additional game but she eased back in off the bench against DePaul and has started the last two games (15.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg)

Lovin' The Land of Lincoln
Tonight's game is Loyola's seventh non-conference game this season against a team from the State of Illinois. Interestingly enough, tonight will complete the superfecta of directional Illinois schools, as the Ramblers knocked off Southern Illinois and have lost to Northern Illinois and Western Illinois already. All told, Loyola is 2-4 (.333) this season against in-state teams

Sweet 16th
Senior guard Monica Albano finally put her name in the Loyola record book as she became the 21st player in Loyola history to score 1,000 career points, reaching the milestone against Southern Illinois. Her 19 points against Marquette upper her career total to 1,105 and rocketed her ahead of Elyse VanBogaert, Jenna Real and Meskhenet Lands and into 16th on the Ramblers' all-time list.

This Taylor Is A Great Fit
In freshman Taylor Johnson, it appears that Loyola's tradition of strong guard play will continue for the foreseeable future. Johnson burst on the scene against Southern Illinois, posting a career-high 26 points, and she has been solid ever since. She followed up a 16-point, eight-rebound, six-assist performance against DePaul by posting her first career double-double against Chicago State, finishing with 12 points and 10 steals in only 20 minutes of action. Already a two-time Horizon League Newcomer of the Week honoree, Johnson leads all Horizon League freshmen this season in scoring (11.5 ppg) and steals (2.5 spg) and is third in assists (2.9 apg).

Valuing The Orange
One thing that Loyola has done tremendously well through 11 games has been protect the basketball. The Ramblers are averaging just 11.6 turnovers per game thus far, a figure that puts them third in the country behind Montana (10.9) and Villanova (11.2) heading into tonight's game