Frankfort, Ky.- Megan Whittaker had a career high 8 three-pointers and Jasmine Brewer grabbed her career 919th career rebound as Loyola University New Orleans women’s basketball defeated Our Lady of the Lake College 72-67 in the NAIA National Championship Tournament Friday night at the Frankfort Civic Center.
Loyola took the lead for good just 3:12 into the game as Whittaker hit her first triple on the evening. The margin quickly grew to 15 points with a Meghan Temple layup off a feed from Kylah Jones to make it 21-6 with 9:31 to play. The Wolf Pack enjoyed a 31-21 advantage at the break.
In the second half, Janeicia Neely equaled the 15 point margin for the Wolf Pack with one of her two three pointers on the night to make it 41-26 with 17:47 to play. The Loyola advantage would dwindle to four points on three separate occasions over the next 15 minutes. The last came at 2:13 with a Mercedes Dobson three pointer. Later, Electra Roberts pulled the Saints to within three points when she hit a jumper with 28 seconds remaining. Neely sealed the Wolf Pack win with a pair of free throws with three seconds left in regulation.
“I thought we handled their pressure well. In crunch time, we did the things we needed to do win. Different people have stepped up for us in big games, and tonight I thought Callie McNally did that by grabbing some great rebounds and making her free throws. Obviously, Megan Whittaker had another great game shooting the ball and I’m so happy for Jasmine for breaking the rebounding record,” said Loyola head coach Kellie Kennedy.
Jasmine Brewer broke the all time Loyola rebounding record with her second rebound of the game and finished with six on the evening. The senior forward scored 15 points. Whittaker finished with a team high 24 points on 8 of 19 shooting from beyond the arc. The 19 attempts is a NAIA Tournament record, breaking 18 attempted by Kelli Ritzer of Minnesota-Duluth in 1991.
Janeicia Neely added 12 points and Rebekah Greer added 11 off the bench. McNally came off the bench to grab seven rebounds in just 13 minutes of action. Whittaker and McNally shared the team lead in rebounding. Loyola (23-11) moves on to the quarter final round for the first time since 2007.
For OLLC (27-5), Roberts led all scorers with 26. The junior guard came off the bench and converted 7 of 9 from the field and 12 of 16 from the free throw line. Rebecca Kolawole had 11 points to round out the leaders for the Saints, the three seed in the quarter of the bracket and 9th in the latest NAIA poll.
“We came into this game very confident, so I knew we would play well. I’m honored to have the record, but honestly I’m blessed to have this team around me. Without their hard work and trust, I wouldn’t be able to crash the boards and grab so many rebounds,” said Brewer.
The Wolf Pack enjoyed a sizable advantage on the boards as they outrebounded the Saints 55-32 and 21-6 on the offensive end. Loyola converted 16 second chance points, while holding OLLC to 3.
Loyola will take on John Brown, the fifth seed in the bracket, on Saturday at 7pm CDT in a quarterfinal matchup at the Frankfort Civic Center. Loyola is the seventh seed in the quarter of the bracket.
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