(Pulaski, Tenn.) The Loyola University New Orleans women’s basketball team bounced back from a seven-point deficit with 9:39 remaining in the second half to pull off a 57-54 victory over #21 Martin Methodist College in the Robert E. Curry Christian Life Center Saturday afternoon.
The Wolf Pack (15-9, 9-5 SSAC) offense was led by senior Jasmine Brewer who turned in a team-leading 16 points and paced the Pack on the boards with seven rebounds. Junior Janiecia Neely contributed 15 points, three rebounds and two assists to the victory. Junior Rebekah Greer chipped in with seven points and a career-high six boards. Greer and junior Megan Whittaker commanded the passing effort with four assists each.
After leading by as many as 11 points in the first half, Loyola found themselves down by four at the end of the first half. Martin Methodist (17-6, 10-4 SSAC) extended their lead by seven following a field goal from senior Tyffani Fenwick with 17:08 to play. Wolf Pack freshman Kylah Jones responded with a three-point shot followed by a Neely field goal to cut the RedHawks lead to two, but a back and forth scoring battle ensued until Martin Methodist eventually reached another seven-point lead when senior Kyra Knight sunk a two-point shot to make it a 47-40 game with 10:21 on the clock.
The next five points came from the visiting squad as freshman Caroline Gonzalez nailed a jumper, Brewer sunk one of two free throws and bucketed a field goal on the next possession. The relentless RedHawks responded however as Fenwick converted two free throws to bring the score to 49-45 in favor of the home team. Brewer reached the line once again, going one for one, and following a Fenwick miss, Gonzalez made some noise on the other end of the court with a three-point shot to knot the game at 49-49 with less than eight minutes to play.
Following the tie, Loyola pulled ahead and didn’t allow another RedHawks lead. The Gonzalez three sparked a 10-point run for the Pack capped by another Brewer free throw to earn the Pack a 56-49 advantage, their largest of the second half. Martin Methodist managed to reduce the Loyola lead to two when senior Rachel Brown put up two points in the paint with just 45 seconds remaining, but the RedHawks were forced to foul, sending Gonzalez to the line who went one-for-one to secure the three-point victory.
Fenwick and junior Kelsey Nowlin commanded the scoring effort for the RedHawks, notching a combined 26 points. Nowlin tossed in a team-best three assists. Senior Kyra Knight and freshman Kyoko Wade collected nine boards apiece.
Martin Methodist went from shooting 48.3% from the field in the first half to converting just 27.6% in the second. Loyola improved from 30.6% from the field in the first 20 minutes to 39.3% in the second. Their success from the foul line increased as well, going from shooting one for four in the first to five for 12 in the second.
Loyola struck first in the first half and maintained a lead through the first 14 minutes of the half. Neely knocked down two free throws at the 10:54 mark to give Loyola their largest edge of the game. Reaching the 11-point advantage proved to be a turning point in the contest as the RedHawks responded with 13 straight points to take over the lead and go up 25-23 with just under six minutes to play before the break. Sophomore Shayne Charles broke the Martin Methodist stride with a three-point shot to recapture the Loyola lead with 4:33 in the half, but the Wolf Pack could not hold on as the RedHawks entered the locker room with the 32-28 advantage.
#21 Martin Methodist is the fifth ranked team Loyola defeated this season. The Pack has won nine of their last 12 contests. The all-time series between the two SSAC competitors now sits at 2-1 in favor of the RedHawks.
Loyola, now a game out of first place in the SSAC West Division, returns to The Den on Thursday, Feb. 13 for a 5:30 p.m. matchup with the #25 University of Mobile (15-6, 9-4 SSAC).