Frankfort, Ky.- Loyola University New Orleans converted 14 of their first 15 shots in the game en route to a 87-80 upset win over Georgetown College (KY) Thursday night in the first round of the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship Tournament at the Frankfort Civic Center.
The hot start allowed the Wolf Pack to lead by many as 10 points in the first half. Megan Whittaker poured in 11 points, while Jasmine Brewer added nine in the opening 8:14. Kylah Jones converted a pair of free throws at the 5:41 mark to give Loyola the 10 point advantage. The Pack held a 48-41 advantage at the break.
In the second half, the Tigers retook the lead for the first time since the opening moments with a 9-2 run. Jessica Foster kicked off the streak with a pair of field goals. Haley Armstrong followed with a three pointer before Loyola’s Jackie Anderson halted the streak of seven unanswered by the Tigers. Lizza Jones responded for Georgetown and Kourtney Tyra converted a pair of free throws to give GC a 54-53 advantage with 13:49 to play.
The lead would change hands five times over the next three minutes, the last came on a bucket by Loyola’s Megan Temple with 11:54 remaining. The Wolf Pack would not trail the rest of the way as the lead grew to as many as seven with a three pointer by Briana Oglesby to make it 71-64 at the 8:31 mark. The Tigers would not go away and outscored Loyola 12-5 over the next four minutes with Devanny King tying the score at 76-76 with 4:41 left.
Loyola took the lead for good with a bucket from Neely off an assist by Temple with 4:09 to play. The Pack converted 8 of 11 free throws down the stretch and held the Tigers to just four points over the final 4:41.
“Our team was really focused and ready to play tonight. The strong start really built our confidence as the game wore on. Georgetown is an excellent club, and we executed our game plan. It was a total 40 minute effort by our team,” said Loyola head coach Kellie Kennedy.
Brewer and Whittaker each had 17 points to lead the Wolf Pack (22-11). Brewer became the fourth leading scorer in Loyola history, passing Trenell Smith. The senior from Houston now has 1,721 points in her career and needs two boards to become the all time leading rebounder in Loyola history. Whittaker equaled her season high with five three pointers. Jones finished with 12 points and Nelly added 10.
For Georgetown (21-9), Jessica Foster led with 22 points on 9 of 14 shooting from the field. Tyra had 20 points and a game high 10 assists. Lizza Jones added 17 points. The Tigers are ranked eighth in the latest NAIA poll.
Loyola, a seven seed in their quarter of the bracket, committed only six turnovers on the night, while forcing the Tigers into 13 miscues. The Pack scored 17 points off turnovers and the bench outscored the Tigers bench 27-11. Georgetown, a second seed, enjoyed an advantage on the boards, outrebounding the Wolf Pack 44-35.
Loyola will face Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) in the second round on Friday. Tip off in the Frankfort Civic Center is slated for 7pm CDT. The Saints are a three seed in the tournament and ranked ninth in the latest NAIA poll.
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