(New Orleans, La.) The Loyola University New Orleans women’s basketball team turned in a strong first half and maintained a solid lead throughout as they defeated Jesuit rival Spring Hill College, 65-48 Thursday night in The Den.
Junior Janeicia Neely went seven for 14 from the field, notching a team-best 19 points. Neely sunk two of five shots taken from behind the arc and posted three for four at the line. Freshman Caroline Gonzalez added 10 points while senior Jasmine Brewer tallied eight points and a team-leading eight boards. Freshman Kylah Jones chipped in with five points and five assists.
The Wolf Pack (18-9, 12-5 SSAC) entered the second half with a 34-21 advantage. Junior Callie McNally was quick to stifle the Badgers (5-20, 2-15 SSAC) as she opened the half with a block on Spring Hill senior Tempey Hamilton’s field goal attempt. Junior Megan Whittaker followed up with a three-point shot on the other end of the court and sparked a seven-point run for the Pack in the first three minutes of the half.
Back and forth scoring from the field ensued between both offenses until sophomore Armanee Broussard broke the trend and sunk a shot from long distance as the Badgers initiated an attempt to close the gap. With the score set at 48-33 in favor of the home team with 11:55 remaining, Neely responded with a field goal for the Pack, but Spring Hill answered right back with six consecutive points to cut the Loyola lead to 11, the slimmest margin of the half. Neely helped regain control with a two-point bucket which opened a 5-0 run to bring Loyola up by 16. A missed three-point opportunity by Spring Hill senior LaSheena Nation would have brought the Badgers within 10, but Spring Hill struggled to find the basket from long range.
Loyola widened the gap to 22 points, their largest lead of the game, with just over two minutes remaining as Neely nailed a three. Spring Hill sophomore Natalie Harper closed the contest with back-to-back scoring plays for the Badgers, but the run came up short as time expired and the Wolf Pack earned their fourth consecutive victory.
Broussard commanded the Spring Hill scoring effort with 11 points. Harper and freshman Corrine Missi recorded eight points apiece and Missi secured the glass with 11 rebounds.
Spring Hill earned an early four-point lead to open the game, but Loyola junior Megan Whittaker opened scoring for the Pack with a three to reduce the Badger lead to one. Brewer converted a Spring Hill turnover into two Wolf Pack points to secure the first Loyola advantage of the game at the 17:54 minute mark. Senior Sha Sha Buchanan tied it up, going one for one from the line, but Loyola tallied five straight to go ahead 10-5. The Badgers notched five consecutive points of their own to knot the game at 10 with 13:43 on the clock, and later managed to recapture a brief one-point lead following a field goal from freshman Amee Smith, but Loyola continued to respond immediately.
Spring Hill sent Gonzalez to the line where she regained a one-point advantage for the Pack. Jones stepped up to the free throw line where she added another point to the Loyola lead, but Spring Hill senior Bria Bohanon knocked down a three-point shot to earn what would turn out to be the Badgers’ final edge of the game. Sophomore Shayne Charles turned in a three-pointer from the other end of the court and sparked a seven-point burst for the Pack, making it a 23-17 contest with 6:05 left in the half. Loyola ended the half on an 18-4 run and entered the locker room with a 13-point advantage.
The teams matched one another evenly in steals, turnovers and rebounds, however the Wolf Pack converted 43.4% of shots taken from the field and 46.2% from long distance. The Badgers managed to convert just 28.1% from the field and 21.9% from behind the arc.
The Loyola versus Spring Hill matchup was part of the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight program. The game was just one of many this season between the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the United States. Dedicated to academic rigor, research, faith and serving others, Jesuit, Catholic education stands at the intersection of minds, hearts and souls.
The Wolf Pack will return to The Den on Saturday, Feb. 22 where they will aim to take down #18 Bethel University in a 2 p.m. matchup with the leader of the SSAC West.