(New Orleans, La.) The Loyola University New Orleans women’s basketball team turned in an impressive second half performance to hand #20 Southern Polytechnic State University their second conference loss of the season in a 75-73 thriller. The win gave Loyola head coach Kellie Kennedy her 100th career victory with the Wolf Pack.
“This was a great win against a very tough opponent,” said Kennedy. “It was an absolute team effort. Kylah Jones had a big time game for us. Janeicia Neely played fantastically. Jasmine Brewer was one rebound shy of a double double. We received contributions from many tonight.”
Loyola (4-3, 2-2 SSAC) found themselves nine points shy of a lead entering the second half. Senior Sarah Ogoke increased the Southern Poly (6-2, 2-2 SSAC) advantage by two with a field goal to open scoring for the Hornets in the half, but the Wolf Pack wouldn’t allow a larger deficit for the rest of the game. Back to back three pointers from junior Janeicia Neely sparked a run for the Pack, placing them within two points of a lead at 49-51 with 16:29 to play. Following a split set of free throws from Southern Poly senior Erica Turner, a Neely jumper and a three from junior Megan Whittaker would put the Pack ahead 54-52.
Back and forth action between the two explosive offenses resulted in five separate ties before a breakthrough from freshman Kylah Jones put the Pack in position to nab the win. Jones put up four consecutive points thanks to two free throws and a field goal with less than a minute to go, giving Loyola the 74-73 lead. Neely sealed the deal with a made free throw to secure the victory.
“As the conference season goes on down the road,” added Kennedy, “this is going to be a good win for us. I’m proud of the way we responded. We found ourselves down early and we fought back until the clock hit zero.”
The Wolf Pack had some catching up to do in the second half after a slow first 20 minutes to start. Southern Poly outrebounded Loyola 23 to 12 and posted greater numbers in both field goal and free throw percentage. A Turner field goal handed the Hornets their largest lead of the game at 41-30 with 2:35 in the half. Following two made free throws by Jones to reduce the Hornets lead to seven, senior Quentessa Bullock sunk a three for Southern Poly to put them back up by double digits, taking a 44-34 lead with 38 seconds to go in the first. Brewer followed up with a field goal while Bullock nailed one of two free throws to end the stanza in favor of the Hornets. Neely led the first half offensive effort for the Pack, posting 10 points and three assists.
Neely’s consistency continued throughout the game as she led the Pack with 23 points and six assists. Jones contributed 16 points, two rebounds and one assist to the win while Brewer recorded 14 points and steadied the effort on the glass, collecting nine rebounds.
Ogoke and junior Alexandria Prince tallied 19 points apiece for the Hornets. Prince was a perfect three for three from behind the arch. Turner and Bullock added 11 and 14 points respectively. Senior Arnissa Galloway led the Southern Poly rebounding effort with nine.
The win was the 100th in Kellie Kennedy’s career with the Wolf Pack. She reached the century mark faster than any other coach in Loyola women’s athletics history. With a 100-52 record for the Wolf Pack, only two other Loyola coaches have reached 100 victories sooner. Jack Orsley, who eclipsed 100 wins in both men’s basketball and baseball, was 102-42 in his first eight seasons on the diamond and 104-27 in his initial six seasons on the hardwood. He finished his career with 173-73 (basketball) and 142-55 (baseball). Rags Scheuermann was 103-41 in his first eight seasons leading the Loyola baseball team and completed his career for the Wolf Pack nine with a record of 234-126.
The Wolf Pack will return to home action in The Den on Tuesday, Nov. 26 as they host Louisiana College at 5:30 p.m.