Late Loyola Comeback Falls Short Against Niagara

Jan. 2, 2012

Final Stats

BALTIMORE - The Loyola University Maryland women's basketball team trimmed a 10-point deficit to two in the final two minutes of play, but fell short as the Greyhounds lost to Niagara, 57-54, in their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener on Monday evening at Reitz Arena.

The loss moves Niagara to 4-9 overall and 1-0 in the MAAC while Loyola drops to 4-8 and 0-1 in the MAAC

Niagara was led by Kayla Stroman, who scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the second half. Lauren Gatto added 14 points for the Purple Eagles, connecting of 6-of-7 from the free throw line.

Katie Sheahin led Loyola, scoring in double figures for her fifth-straight game with 16 points and three 3-pointers. Miriam McKenzie added 11 in the effort while Alyssa Sutherland led the Greyhounds with a career-high six assists.

McKenzie’s 11 gave her 1,131 for her career, putting her eighth on Loyola’s all-time career scoring chart.

Neither team was able to find an offensive rhythm in the first half and went to the locker rooms tied at 21 apiece. Neither side was able to eclipse 30-percent shooting, with the Greyhounds at 23.1-percent (6-for-26) and the Purple Eagles at 27.6-percent (8-for-29).

The first half featured four ties and four lead changes. Niagara took the biggest lead of the first half at 10-4 at the 12:54 mark following back-to-back 3-pointers from Meghan McGuinness and Stroman.

Loyola chipped away at the lead and took a 20-17 advantage after a 6-0 run ended with a Nneka Offodile layup with 1:28 left in the frame.

The Greyhounds did a good job getting to the free throw line in the first half, going 9-for-12 from the charity stripe. Sutherland led the charge with a 4-for-6 effort and finished the game with eight points.

The Purple Eagles jumped on the Greyhounds quickly in the second half, starting on a 10-2 run to take a 31-21 lead with 15:38 left.

After Niagara extended the lead to ten at 40-30, Loyola responded with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to three with 7:14 left. Sheahin had five points during the run, hitting a three and capping the run with a layup.

The Purple Eagles slowly built another double-digit lead, going up 52-42 on a pair of free throws by Gatto with 1:34 remaining.

But the Greyhounds made a furious comeback in the final minutes and half. Sheahin started the run with a deep three from the right wing, trimming the deficit to seven with 1:10 remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Sutherland stole the ball off a pass by Val McQuade and then found Nicole Krusen who hit a layup while getting fouled, pulling Loyola to within four at 52-48 with 57 seconds left.

The greyhounds once again came up with a turnover, this time with Sheahin picking off a pass from Gatto, and taking it coast-to-coast for a left-handed layup to make it a one possession game at 52-50 with 45 ticks on the clock.

McKenzie fouled Ali Morris after the inbounds pass, and Morris converted 1-for-2 from the line to make it 53-50 Niagara with 44 seconds left.

The Greyhounds had the ball with a chance to tie, but Niagara forced a five-second violation to get the ball back. Stroman was fouled on the next inbounds pass and hit a pair of free throws to seal the game for the Purple Eagles.

The Greyhounds shot much better in the second half, firing at a 44.4-percent clip while hitting five 3-pointers. They were outshot 35.7-percent to 34.0-percent in the game and committed 24 turnovers compared to 20 by Niagara.

Loyola concludes a two-game homestand on Wednesday, January 4 at 7 p.m. against Manhattan.