Nov. 13, 2009
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Women's basketball opened up the 2009-2010 campaign in a big way Friday night, in Philadelphia, with a 69-55 season-opening win over La Salle at Tom Gola Arena. Loyola (1-0) dominated the Explorers (0-1) on their own court, effectively containing Morgan Robertson, La Salle's biggest threat.
The story of the night was Miriam McKenzie. The sophomore guard who played just nine games as a freshman lit up the Explorers for a career- and game-high 23 points, five rebounds and two assists in her first career start. McKenzie was near-perfect, going 9-for-10 from the field, hit her only three points attempt and 4-for-5 at the line.
It didn't take her long to top her previous career-high of 11 points, as she ended the first half leading all scorers with 18 points.
While McKenzie was near-perfect, Meredith Tolley was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from the perimeter. Tolley finished with 11 points overall, one of four Greyhounds that turned in double-digit performances. The junior forward also tied Erica DiClemente and Robertson grabbing a game-high six boards.
DiClemente, in her first game back after a knee injury that forced her to redshirt last season, finished with 14 points. Kaitlin Grant had 19 on a 9-for-9 free throw night.
Loyola controlled the game with efficient offense, never shooting lower than 50 percent from anywhere on the court, and played shut down defense. Applying heavy man-to-man pressure, the Greyhounds forced the Explorers into bad shots and turnovers. Robertson managed 11 points, but more than half of her points came off free throws, as her teammates were unable to get to their star post with heavy double-team coverage.
Loyola wasted no time establishing presence on the court. A 4-4 tie was closest the Explorers would come to taking a lead, and a five point deficit near the end of the first half was the closest they would come to tying the Greyhounds again.
With the Greyhounds up 25-20, La Salle knocked at the door with a little over three minutes to go in the first half, but McKenzie immediately shut it. Mallory Lawes charged down the court after a steal and missed a short jumper. McKenzie grabbed the rebound under the basket, and was almost upended by Robertson as she got the shot off. But the shot was good, and she knocked down her free throw, putting Loyola up 28-20.
McKenzie then took advantage of a turnover by Robertson with an immediate jumper, and followed that up with a layup after a missed shot by Robertson.
The Greyhounds return home this weekend to open the '09-'10 season at Reitz Arena. The home season begins Sunday, with a game against Army slated for noon.