No. 20 Loyola women rout Xavier 76-45 to start season

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The No. 20 Loyola University New Orleans women’s basketball team kicked off the 2017-18 season on Thursday night by welcoming crosstown rival Xavier University to campus for an early-season showdown inside The Den.

Both teams entered this season with some questions as the Wolf Pack lost three starters to graduation last year while the Gold Nuggets came into The Den having lost two key players to season-ending injuries earlier in the preseason.  Whatever questions people may have had about Loyola coming into this game, the Wolf Pack provided more than enough answers in its home opener.

Led by a game-high 23 points (10-14 shooting) from Zoie Miller (SR/Frisco, Texas), the Wolf Pack cruised past Xavier on Thursday 76-45 to improve to 1-0 on the year. Loyola’s 31-point victory on Thursday marked the largest margin of victory ever for the Wolf Pack over the Gold Nuggets, besting the mark Loyola set last year in its 81-53 win inside the XULA Convocation Center.

The Wolf Pack jumped out to the early 6-0 advantage to start the contest thanks to buckets from Kamille Cooper(FR/San Antonio, Texas) and Miller. The visitors were able to cut the deficit to four (11-6) before the Wolf Pack would close out the opening frame on a 6-2 spurt capped off by a free throw from Di’Mond Jackson (SR/Baton Rouge, La.) to give Loyola the 17-8 lead after the first 10 minutes.

The home team scored the opening five points of the second quarter to go up 22-8. Following a triple by Xavier’s Taylor Jacob, the Wolf Pack orchestrated an 8-0 run to push the lead to 31-11 with just under five to play in the first half. The Gold Nuggets’ Essence Wells scored to final five points for the visitors in the frame but despite her best efforts to keep XULA in the game, the first half buzzer rang with Loyola holding a comfortable 39-18 advantage.

Loyola started the third with two three triples (2 – Franckiewicz | 1 – Worry) to grab the 47-20 lead with 7:33 to play. Following a jumper by Miller, Worry would knock yet another long ball to keep the Wolf Pack on top comfortably at 52-20. With under a minute remaining in the third, Iiya Babineaux converted an and-1 to extend to cushion to 66-30 before a late free throw by XULA’s Dede Martinez would cap the third off with the score at 66-31 in favor of the home team.

The Wolf Pack would connect on only four field goals in the fourth, but it was more than enough as No. 20 team in the country took the convincing 76-45 victory over its crosstown rival at home.

As a team, Loyola shot a solid 51.8% (29-of-56) from the floor while holding its opponent to just 17.9% shooting (12-of-67) from the field.  The Wolf Pack outrebounded its opponent 49-33 and held the advantage from deep 44% to 25%.

Miller’s 23 points led all scorers on Thursday while Worry (13) and Jackson (12) combined for 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Worry also grabbed a game-high eight boards in the win and led Loyola with two blocks overall.

Essence Wells powered the Gold Nuggets with 11 points while Jalyn Hodge grabbed a team-high five boards in the loss.

The Wolf Pack will return to The Den on Saturday, Oct. 28, to welcome Southeastern University to campus for a game at 3:00 p.m.

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