(Hattiesburg, Miss.) The Loyola University New Orleans women’s basketball team clung to a single-digit lead in the final minutes of the second half to defeat William Carey University 74-70 in Clinton Gymnasium Saturday evening.
Four Wolf Pack (17-9, 11-5 SSAC) women tallied points in double digits. Juniors Megan Whittaker and Janiecia Neely contributed 19 points apiece to the Loyola victory, a season-high for Whittaker. Senior Jasmine Brewer and freshman Kylah Jones supported the scoring effort with a combined 21 points. Whittaker shot six-for-nine from the field, sinking five of seven from three-point range. Additionally, Whittaker collected a season-best eight rebounds to lead the Pack on the glass.
Loyola entered the second half with a significant 42-27 lead over the Crusaders (7-13, 5-11 SSAC). Neither team was able to pull away for the first 14 minutes of the second half as the score never reached a deficit greater than three points. Senior Haleigh Arcement sparked the initial second half run for the Crusaders, nailing a field goal at the 6:25 mark to make it a 64-69 game. Following that play, the home team strung together a 7-0 run to reduce the Loyola advantage to 10. Neely sunk two free throws to bring the Pack up 66-54, but William Carey was not ready to back down.
William Carey held the Wolf Pack to two points and scored 11 of their own within three minutes of play to chip away at the Loyola edge and make it a one-point game with 1:32 remaining. The Wolf Pack responded with four straight points, reaching a more comfortable five-point lead with just less than a minute to go. Neely fouled William Carey junior Tisa Smith, sending her to the line where she sunk two free throws to make it a 71-68 contest.
Junior Ciera Sibley committed a defensive foul on Loyola’s next possession which allowed Neely to bucket two free throws of her own. As time wound down, the Crusaders continued to foul and sent Neely back to the line where she added one more point to boost the Wolf Pack lead, 74-68. Arcement converted a Neely turnover into a two-point play for the Crusaders with 12 seconds left, but neither team was able to create another shot before time expired, and Loyola secured the 74-70 win.
Junior Tiffany Sims was the top scorer for William Carey, notching 18 points. Smith chipped in with 11 and Arcement added eight. Sibley pulled down a team-best nine rebounds.
Loyola opened scoring in the first half with a field goal, but Arcement quickly tied it at two and the Crusaders took off toward a six-point lead, their largest advantage of the game. Following junior Erin Holifield’s shot from behind the arc to make it a 9-3 contest in favor of the Crusaders, Loyola scored 12 consecutive points including three straight shots from Whittaker from behind the arc to put the Pack up by six at the 13:37 mark. The Crusaders tallied five straight to make it a one-point contest, but Loyola strung together another nine straight and William Carey did not lead for the rest of the game.
The Wolf Pack returns to The Den to host Jesuit rival Spring Hill College on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m.