(Montgomery, Ala.) The Loyola University New Orleans women’s basketball team defeated Emmanuel College, 62-51 in their first contest of SSAC Tournament action Thursday evening.
Junior Janeicia Neely paced the Wolf Pack (21-10) with 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals, leading Loyola in all four categories. Senior Jasmine Brewer joined her in double figures with 12 points and added eight rebounds. Freshman Meghan Temple and junior Megan Whittaker contributed eight and nine points respectively. They combined for 13 rebounds.
Despite entering the second 20 minutes of play with a 28-18 lead, the Wolf Pack, first seed in the SSAC West, struggled to find the hoop early on and scored just five points in the first six minutes of the half. Transversely, the Emmanuel (18-14) offense erupted, notching 12 points and closing the gap, making it a 33-30 contest following a junior Skye Rogers field goal with 16:03 to go.
The Pack refused the #4 seed SSAC East Lions a lead and pulled away on an 18-point burst, holding Emmanuel to just five points during the scoring spree. Rogers made it a 51-37 game after sinking two bonus free throws with 7:25 to play. Two more bonus buckets from Rogers made it a 51-38 contest followed by a field goal from Wynn to bring the Lions to 40 points, but Whittaker ignited the Wolf Pack offense with a timely three and Loyola scored four consecutive points to go up 56-40. Despite allowing 11 Emmanuel points in the final four minutes of the game, the Loyola offense remained on point, collecting six points to remain ahead and eventually secure the 62-51 victory.
Junior Michelle Wynn commanded the scoring effort for the Lions with 15 points, shooting six for 15 from the field. Senior Jebreal Alford secured the glass, pulling down seven boards
The Wolf Pack found themselves trailing 2-5 early in the first half following a Wynn three-point shot, but Brewer responded on the next Pack possession with a shot from behind the arc to tie the game at five with 17:35 remaining in the half. The Brewer bucket sparked a 15-2 point run capped by a Temple field goal and the Pack pulled ahead 17-7 at the 6:55 mark.
The Lions cut the deficit to five following a freshman Timia Reynolds field goal with 3:58 on the clock as the score reached 19-14 in favor of the Pack. Emmanuel would manage to score just four more points during the first half while Loyola tallied nine points in the final three minutes of the half and entered the locker room with a 28-18 advantage.
The Wolf Pack will continue tournament action tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. when they take on the winner of the Faulkner (#2 seed, SSAC East) vs. Mobile (#3 seed, SSAC West) game.