Loyola tops Our Lady of the Lake in OT thriller to open Women’s NAIA tourney

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In their first round matchup with Our Lady of the Lake, Pack come out on top 89-86 behind Kaila Anthony’s 24 points and Di’Mond Jackson’s double-double

BILLINGS, Mont. – In a game that featured 10 lead changes, nine ties and five minutes of overtime, the Loyola University New Orleans women’s basketball team triumphed over Our Lady of the Lake 89-86 Thursday morning at the Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark to begin the 2018 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship.

Entering the tournament as the five seed and ranked 20th in Division I, the Wolf Pack (26-5) jumped out to a 6-0 lead on three-pointers from the right wing by Paige Franckiewicz and Megan Worry. After Di’Mond Jackson was able to hit one of two free throws and put Loyola up 7-0, the Saints (23-10) scored their first points on a fast-break layup. With just over five minutes remaining in the first quarter, Zoie Miller did what she does best, splitting the defense and connecting on the layup to make it 9-2.

Our Lady of the Lake’s Destinee King hit a bucket before the Saints scored another to bring it within three, but quickly claimed the lead on eventual free throws and three-pointer. Down three, Kaila Anthony laid it in down low to bring it within one, but the Saints would convert a three-point play on the next possession. Anthony continued to roll for the Wolf Pack, sinking a corner three before Zoie Miller added two on a steal and score.

Yet another three from Anthony put Loyola up 19-15, but the Saints would run down and quickly add two of their own. As the first quarter came to a close, the Wolf Pack took a 21-17 lead into the second, after Anthony found An’Jolique Woodson down low to give the Pack a four point advantage.

While the Pack offense kept it going with a three from Miller to begin the second period, Our Lady of the Lake would come right back with a three of their own. The teams traded baskets back-and-forth, bringing it to 28-24 with just over seven minutes left in the half. A jumper by Woodson and eventual free throw from Jackson made it 31-24, before Quintianna LeShore drove to the basket to cut into the Pack’s lead. Miller would find Jackson down low for a quick bucket on an inbound pass before two scores from Breyah Richardson and Worry pushed Loyola’s advantage out to 11.

Our Lady of the Lake, the 16th ranked team in the country, fought right back, however, hitting one three-pointer with two minutes left in the quarter, before sinking a second on a foul. Converting the four-point play, the Saints quickly cut the Wolf Pack lead to four. As the buzzer sounded for the halftime break, Loyola would hold a 37-34 lead, led by Jackson’s six points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

The Saints stole the lead to open the third quarter, eventually climbing out by three 45-42. Franckiewicz would tie the game at 45 with five minutes left, one of her four makes from beyond the arc in the game, before two free throws from Miller put the Pack back on top. A response from the Saints tied the game at 47, with Miller sinking a three on the ensuing Loyola possession followed by a block from Anthony on the defensive end and bucket to make it 52-47 with three minutes left in the quarter. The Loyola offense continued to roll, climbing out to a 61-53 lead after a drive down the baseline from Jackson.

To open the fourth quarter, Our Lady of the Lake would score 13 unanswered points, jumping out to a five-point lead 66-61. With five and a half minutes left in regulation, Anthony connected on a huge three from the corner, then Miller would hit from beyond the arc to put the Pack up one. Jackson drove to the paint on Loyola’s next offensive possession, drawing the foul and hitting two free throws, with the Saints hitting an ensuing shot from the charity stripe to make it 69-67 at the 3:49 mark. After Anthony gathered a steal and added two more for the Wolf Pack, the Saints scored five quick points on a three followed by a steal and two free throws.

Anthony’s hot hand from three gave Loyola the two point lead, but the Saints would tie the game back at 74 with under two minutes left to play. Our Lady of the Lake would reclaim the lead on a three from the top of the arc before two more points from Anthony brought the game within one at 77-76 with just under a minute left.

With 41 seconds on the clock, the Saints were sent to the line, only able to make one to take a two-point lead. After King was fouled by Loyola and missed both free throws, the Pack were given the ball with 20 seconds left. As Jackson handled the ball she powered through the defense in the lane, missing the first layup but corralling her own rebound and sinking the shot to send the game to overtime.

The two teams traded points to open the extra five-minute period to make it 80-80, before a crossover and jumper from Miller gave the Pack the lead. Down to one minute remaining, the Saints would score to draw it even yet again, before Jackson put Loyola back on top with a tough drive and score.

A missed shot from three by Our Lady of the Lake forced them to foul Loyola, sending Anthony to the free throw line where she converted both opportunities. After a quick layup from the Saints with just 9.4 seconds to play, the game sat at 86-84 Pack. As the end of the game approached, Miller was fouled with seven seconds left, sinking both shots.

With only two seconds on the clock, the Saints were sent to the line, bringing the game to 88-86. Forced to foul to stop the clock, Loyola was able to add on an additional free throw with .9 seconds left, before the Wolf Pack defense kept the Saints from getting a last-second shot off, claiming the 89-86 victory to advance to the Sweet 16.

Loyola set a new program record for most points scored in a game at the NAIA National Championship, with today’s 89-point performance eclipsing the previous record of 87 set in the 2014 tournament.

This will be the first time since the 2014 National Tournament that Loyola has advanced to at least the second round, after the Pack upset the No. 2 seed Georgetown (Ky.) 87-80 in the first round before defeating Our Lady of the Lake 72-67 to advance to the quarterfinals.

The Pack were led in scoring today by Anthony who tallied 24 points on 4-5 shooting from three-point range, adding seven rebounds two blocks and two steals as well. Jackson recorded her eighth double-double this season, scoring 16 points, including the game-tying layup to send it to overtime, with 13 rebounds and six assists. Miller added 20 points today, with a game-high nine assists.

The Saints were led in scoring today by Julia Rendon who had 21, while King added 10 points and 13 boards.

Loyola is set to take on Westmont (Calif.) in the second round of the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship tomorrow, March 16th at 5:30 p.m. The top seed in the Cramer Bracket, the Warriors defeated Cumberland (Tenn.) 57-51 following the Wolf Pack’s game to advance.

You can keep up with the Pack by following Wolf Pack Athletics on Facebook at Facebook.com/LoyolaWolfPack, Twitter and Instagram @LoyolaWolfPack, and by checking out our website at LoyolaWolfPack.com.

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