Defensive Effort Leads Loyola Past Navy, 42-38

Nov. 13, 2011

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BALTIMORE -  Senior guard Miriam McKenzie hit two free throws with 11.7 seconds remaining to clinch the win as the Loyola University Maryland women's basketball team defeated reigning Patriot League champion, Navy, 42-38 on Sunday afternoon at Reitz Arena.

McKenzie was the only Greyhound in double figures, scoring 20 points including 15 of the team's final 19 to lead the offensive charge and give Loyola its first victory of the season. The Columbia, Md., native went 5-for-11 from the floor and 9-for-10 from the free-throw line. It was the seventh 20-plus point scoring effort of McKenzie's career.

Prior to the game, former Greyhounds Erica DiClemente and Meredith Tolley returned to Reitz Arena for the unveiling of the 2011 Women's National Tournament banner, as Loyola celebrated the accomplishments of the 2010-11 squad that won the school's first-ever basketball postseason game.

Loyola (1-1, 0-0 MAAC) opened the game with a lockdown defensive effort, holding Navy, a 2011 NCAA Tournament participant, to just 12 points in the first half to take a 17-12 lead at the halftime break. The 12 points were the fewest allowed in a first half by Loyola in Head Coach Joe Logan's tenure and are the fewest since January 27, 1998, against Marist when the team also allowed 12. The record for fewest points allowed in a half was on January 30, 1992 when Loyola held Manhattan to 11.

Loyola allowed just two made field goals in the last 8:21 of the first half and held the Midshipmen to 20-percent shooting from the floor. The Greyhounds forced Navy into jump shots, as the visitors shot 1-for-16 from behind the three-point arc during the first 20 minutes.

Neither side led by more than two points in the first frame until the Greyhounds went on an 8-2 spurt over the final 5:04 to grab a five point halftime advantage.

Trailing 10-9, Steph Smith sparked the Loyola rally, finishing off a lay-up while getting fouled and then hitting the free throw to give the Greyhounds a 12-10 edge at the 5:04 mark. Loyola never trailed in the contest after that point. Smith finished the contest with five points and four rebounds.

After steal and score by Katie Sheahin put the Greyhounds up by four, Jade Geif scored the first points Navy after a seven-minute drought to cut the deficit to two with 1:28 remaining. The Greyhounds held Geif, the Preseason Patriot League Player of the Year, to just eight points in the contest.

Nneka Offodile finished an and-one and then converted the free throw to give the Greyhounds the largest lead for either side at 17-12. Offodile led Loyola in the first half with seven points.

The Greyhounds got off to a much faster start in the second half, outscoring Navy 15-6 over the first seven and a half minutes to claim a 14-point lead at 32-18. McKenzie had nine points during that stretch, including a step-back three-pointer as the shot clock wound down to push the Loyola lead into double digits.

Kara Marshall and Sheahin also contributed with two points each during the run. Marshall finished with four points in 34 minutes after taking over at point guard for an injured Candice Walker.

Sheahin was big on the defensive end, matching her career high with seven steals in the game. It was the fourth time the junior registered seven steals in a game and moved her into eighth on Loyola's all-time career list with 178.

The Midshipmen (0-2, 0-0 Patriot League) continued to chip away at the Greyhound lead, holding Loyola scoreless for more than five minutes after falling behind by as many as 14.

The Midshipmen closed within four on three occasions and then got within two following a pair of Geif free throws with 1:12 remaining that put the score at 40-38.

After forcing a missed jumper by Offodile, Navy had a chance to tie or take the lead with less than a minute remaining. But Loyola's defense once again came up clutch, as Alyssa Sutherland tracked down the defensive rebound on a missed jumper by Audrey Bauer.

Sutherland finished with a team-high 10 rebounds while Offodile finished with seven boards, matching her career high.

McKenzie was fouled and drained two free throws in a one-and-one situation to close out the contest and give Loyola its second-straight win over the Midshipmen and first at home since March 2, 1979. The Greyhounds also improved to 25-16 in home openers and 3-4 under Logan.

Navy finished shooting 24.6-percent from the floor while Loyola shot 29.2-percent. The Greyhounds went 13-for-16 from the charity stripe including a perfect 6-for-6 in the second half.

McKenzie moved into 17th on Loyola's all-time career scoring list with 1,035 in her three-plus in a Green and Grey uniform.

Loyola returns to the court on Friday, November 18, when they hit the road to play Pittsburgh at 11 a.m. at Petersen Events Center.