NEW ORLEANS, La. – Senior Keiva Council scored a game-high 30 points to lead the Loyola University women’s basketball team past No. 16 Xavier, 67-64, on Saturday in The DEN. With the win, the Wolfpack improved to 10-1 on the season, while the Gold Nuggets collected their fourth loss and now stand at 7-4 overall. The ‘Pack’s 10-1 start is the best start in Loyola’s history.
“I thought we played really well,” said head coach Kellie Kennedy. “Considering we are coming out of exams and our kids leave tomorrow for the holiday, we were still able to maintain our focus. That focus was set this week in practice as I thought we had one of our best weeks preparing for an opponent. You could tell that this group wanted this game badly, and I am so happy for our kids and how well they played.”
Joining Council in double figures was sophomore Jasmine Brewer who added 12 points. Council also pulled down a game-best nine rebounds, in addition to four steals and an assists. Freshman Janecia Neely added eight points and three steals to her collegiate resume.
The game got off to a fast start with Brewer scoring the first three points with an old-fashioned three-point play. On next possession, the Gold Nuggets tied the game at 2-2 with a layup from SiMon Franklin at the 19:07 mark. Xavier would take its first lead of the game with 17:59 to go in the first as Franklin hit another shot to give the Gold Nuggets a 4-2 edge. The remainder of the first half would see five ties and five lead changes. The ‘Pack would head into the break up 28-26 over the Gold Nuggets.
In the second half, Loyola strung together a 7-4 run to go ahead by as many as seven points at the 16:15 mark. The Wolfpack continued to expand its lead out to 15 with the score 58-43 with 8:23 left to play. Xavier slowly dwindled Loyola’s lead down back to only one point with a three point basket made by Franklin with 41 seconds to go. After a Gold Nugget foul, Council hit a crucial free throw to go up by two, but misfired on the second one. Sophomore Amy Moody grabbed the game decisive rebound and she was fouled immediately. She sealed the deal hitting the two free throws with 13 seconds to go.
Loyola forced 25 turnovers and converted them into 26 points. The Wolfpack also pulled down 15 offensive rebounds and converted those into 16 second chance points compared to Xavier’s 10. The ‘Pack shot 71.4 percent from the free throw line (25-35), while Gold Nuggets was just 52. 6 percent from the charity stripe (10-19).
Four Gold Nuggets scored in double-digits tonight. Franklin had a team-high 13, while Keldra Hall and Jasmine Grant finished with 12, respectively. Jazmone Kelly rounded out the group with 10.
Loyola takes a break for the holidays, and will get back in the grind on Monday, Jan. 2 when it hosts UNO. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. CT.