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New Year Brings MAAC Play For Women's Hoops

Jan. 2, 2010

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Up Next: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play

Iona Gaels (4-7 overall, 0-0 MAAC)
Loyola Greyhounds (5-6 overall, 0-0 MAAC)
When: Sunday, January 3
Where: Hynes Center (New Rochelle, N.Y.)
Time: 2 p.m.

Fairfield Stags (6-4 overall, 0-0 MAAC)
Loyola Greyhounds (5-6 overall, 0-0 MAAC)
When: Tuesday, January 5
Where: Alumni Hall (Fairfield, Conn.)
Time: 7 p.m.

Starting off
Loyola closed out non-conference play earlier this week by taking third place in Villanova's Wildcat Holiday Classic. After falling to Drexel in the opener, Loyola went on to record a 60-51 win over San Francisco. The Greyhounds never looked back after breaking a 27-27 halftime tie, maintaining a margin of around 10 points throughout the rest of the game. Miriam McKenzie had a game-high 21 points and notched her fourth double-double of the season with 11 rebounds. McKenzie scored 16 against the Dragons the night before, averaging 18.5 points and seven rebounds per game and was the only player from outside of the top two teams to be named to the all-tournament team. Kaitlin Grant doubled up as well against the Dons, scoring 10 points and matching her season-high 12 boards. Erica DiClemente scored 15.

Double or Nothing
Miriam McKenzie's double-double against San Francisco was her fourth of the season. It was also the fourth time McKenzie has reached the 20-point mark. The sophomore guard out of Columbia, Md., has hit double-digits in all but one game, and continues to lead the `Hounds in scoring averaging 16.4 points per game (second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference). Her seven rebounds per game are second on the team, behind Kaitlin Grant.

Conference Call
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play begins with the Greyhounds taking on two conference heavyweights on the road. Loyola will first take on Iona Sunday, at the Hynes Center, before facing Fairfield.

Scouting the Gaels
Iona was unanimously picked to finish second in the MAAC this season, receiving 90 points in the preseason poll. The Gaels had a tough non-conference slate that included Arizona, Notre Dame, a close loss to Arkansas and recently faced No. 1-ranked UConn on the Huskies' home court. The duo of Thasina Cook and Anna McLean provide not only offense but defense as well. The two are averaging 13.4 and 12.4 points per game with McLean shooting .541 from the field. McLean is also one of the conference's top rebounders. Her four offensive boards per game is tops in the MAAC and her total average of 8.1 is third.

The Series
Loyola has typically done well against the Gaels, leading the all-time series 33-10. However, Iona has done well against the Greyhounds in recent years winning the last five meetings.

Scouting the Stags
While Fairfield was picked to finish in sixth place, just ahead of Loyola, in the preseason poll, the Stags are currently second place in the MAAC. Fairfield is coming off two losses in Iowa State's Cyclone Challenge. The Stags lost a close one to Missouri-Kansas City in the opener before falling to Iowa State 67-37. Despite trailing by just four points at half-time, the Stags struggled to get a shot off in the second half, being held scoreless through the first seven minutes. The Cyclones held the Stags to just 10 points in the second half. Stephanie Geehan led with 15 points and was named to the all-tournament team. Geehan has been one of the top performers in the MAAC so far this season and leads the team averaging 15.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Kaitlin Linney is having a strong freshman campaign, averaging 9.1 points per game as a full-time starter.

The Series
Loyola has traditionally struggled against the Stags, with Fairfield leading the all-time series 30-12. Fairfield has defeated Loyola in the teams' last six meetings.

Jesuit Basketball Spotlight
Villanova's Wildcat Holiday Classic featured a pair of Jesuit institutions, Loyola and San Francisco. Should the `Hounds game against the Dons was the first Jesuit Basketball Spotlight game for Loyola this season. The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project highlights more than 90 games this season between men's and women's teams from the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the United States. Jesuit Catholic colleges and universities in the United States have more than 200,000 students currently and more than 1.7 million living alumni. For more information on Jesuit higher education in the United States, go to www.ajcunet.edu.

Stolen Goods
Senior forward Kaitlin Grant's 12 steals against the Mount was the most steals in a Division I women's basketball game since Georgia Tech's Jillian Ingram recorded an identical number Feb. 29, 2008. The senior forward tied for 16th on the NCAA DI single-game list. Just seven players have recorded 13 steals and eight have recorded 14. Grant now holds the all-time school record for a single game. The previous women's record was eight, which she matched last season, while the men's record was 10.

McKenzie's Magic
Miriam McKenze staged a coming out party during opening weekend. Making the most of her first two career starts, the sophomore guard out of Columbia, Md., put up a total 44 total points, 15 rebounds and four assists in the first two games of the 2009-2010 season. In the opener at La Salle, McKenzie more than doubled her previous career-high of 11 points with 23 in the Greyhounds' 69-55 win over the Explorers. McKenzie broke out early, putting up 18 easily in the first half. She nearly bested that performance two days later in Loyola's home opener, posting her first career double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Sutherland Steals the Show
In limited action off the bench, freshman forward Alyssa Sutherland has managed 20 takeaways, the second-most on the team behind Kaitlin Grant's 37. Sutherland started the season off with four against Army in Loyola's home-opener, keying a second-half surge for the Greyhounds. Sutherland has excelled in transition, taking most of those steals to the hoop for fast break layups. Against Tulane in the Navy Classic, Sutherland put up career-high numbers in points (seven) and rebounds (six) while grabbing a game-high three steals.

Going Postal
The first week of play featured two dominant post players on opposing teams and Loyola's senior post player Kaitlin Grant making big contributions. Grant put in two double-digit performances with 19 points at La Salle and 16 against Army. The defense of Grant, Erica DiClemente and Meredith Tolley nearly shut down post players Morgan Robertson (La Salle) and Erin Anthony (Army), limiting the two players to little more than free throws. Backup post player, freshman Alyssa Sutherland, also stepped up with four big steals in the second half against Army.

Grant Gets Preseason Nod
Kaitlin Grant was named preseason all-conference at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference media day in New York, N.Y., last week. Grant was nominated to the conference's third team. Grant has played in all of Loyola's 90 games over the past three seasons and was last year's team MVP. The senior forward averaged 11.2 points per game and led Loyola with 8.1 rebounds per game and 55 steals and was second on the team with 97 assists. One of the MAAC's top rebounders last season, Grant had seven double-doubles and her team-high .486 field-goal percentage was fourth in the MAAC.

Lucky No. 7
The Greyhounds were picked seventh in the coaches' poll during last months' Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference media day, in New York, N.Y. Loyola received a total of 49 points in the poll. With 100 points, four-time defending champion Marist was unanimously picked as the conference's champs for the upcoming season and the Red Foxes' Rachele Fitz was touted as the preseason Player of the Year choice. Fitz has taken top honors in the MAAC the past two seasons and was named Rookie of the Year after her freshman season. Iona received 90 points and was the unanimous second place pick.