March 3, 2011
Bridgeport, CT - The Loyola University Maryland women's basketball team enters this weekend as the No. 2 seed for the 2011 Spark Energy MAAC Basketball Championship and will face off against seventh-seeded Canisius College on Friday at 9:30 a.m. in a semifinal contest at Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn.
Canisius defeated Niagara, 63-52, in a first round game in the MAAC Tournament that took place Thursday afternoon. Canisius enters the game 11-19 overall and 7-12 in the conference. Loyola swept the season series against the Golden Griffins, winning at Reitz Arena, 57-49, and at the Koessler Athletic Center, 71-65. Despite their recent success, the Greyhounds trail the all-time series between the two teams 24-26.The Golden Griffins are led by senior guard Micayla Drysdale, who averages 8.8 points per game and leads the MAAC in three-point field goals made. She had 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the game against Niagara on Thursday. The Griffs are coached by Terry Zeh in his seventh season.
The Greyhounds head into the MAAC Tournament after sweeping the season series against all but two of their conference opponents during a record-setting 15-3 finish in conference play. Loyola split the season series with St. Peter's, falling to the Peahens just last week on Senior Day at Reitz Arena. The loss ended a nine game win-streak for the Greyhounds, matching the nine consecutive wins during the 1994-1995 season. MAAC Regular Season Champions, the Marist Red Foxes, were the only team to sweep the series against Loyola this season. The two teams are seeded in opposite brackets and would only face each other in the Championship game on Sunday.
The Greyhounds had some growing pains early in the season, winning just two of their first eight games. Depsite the struggles a bright spot emerged for Loyola as graduate student guard Erica DiClemente was named MAAC Player of the Week on December 13, after she scored her career-high 23 points in back-to-back games against nationally-ranked Maryland and Mount St. Mary's. DiClemente's performance against Mount St. Mary's was nearly overshadowed by sophomore guard Katie Sheahin. Sheahin dished out 11 assists in the game, matching a 14 year-old single-game assist record as she scored 11 points to collect her career first double-double.
In their first game of 2011 the Greyhounds opened up MAAC play with a dominate win over host Manhattan on January 2. Loyola set new school record, making a staggering 15 shots from long range and was just one shy of the MAAC record. DiClemente, McKenzie and Tolley each knocked down three trifectas a piece, while freshman Nicole Krusen shot lights-out from behind the arc hitting four-of-five three pointers. Sheahin was honored as MAAC Player of the Week for two straight weeks after scoring 19 points against the Japsers and 15 against UMBC, to earn the accolade for the first time. She combined for 34 points and 11 steals the following week as Loyola topped both Rider and Canisius to garner the award for the second time.
Loyola went on to win three conference games in a row against Fairfield, Iona and, Siena. Junior guard Miriam McKenzie had 22 points and 12 rebounds in a road-victory over Siena and she was named MAAC Player of the Week following her impressive performance.
A victory over Niagara on January 28, marked the start of one of the most successful months ever for a Greyhounds women's basketball team. Loyola won four-straight going into a tough game against Siena at home on February 12. The Greyhounds lost a lead late in the second half as the Saints forced the game into overtime however junior guard Candice Walker drained a game-winning jumper with just 18.3 seconds remaining to lift Loyola over the Saints for its first overtime victory of the season. With a career-high 23 point in the Siena game, McKenzie received her second MAAC Player of the Week award.
The Greyhound extended their winning streak over the next two games beating Niagara at home and Fairfield on the road to collect their seventh straight win, a feat accomplished only seven other times. The win over Fairfield marked the Greyhound's first series sweep of the Stags since the 1994-1995 season.
Loyola's next two games would be a test for the Greyhounds as they started off slow in games against Manhattan and Iona. In the first game, Loyola trailed Manhattan by as many as 14 in the first half but showed impressive resiliency holding the Jaspers to just two second-half field goals to win 60-45.
The women's hoops team made its final road trip of the season up to New Rochelle, N.Y., where the squad proved to have a flair for the dramatic. The Greyhounds came backed from a 17-point deficit to tie the game with 8.2 seconds left thanks to Katie Sheahin, who converted two game saving shots from the charity stripe, to force the game into overtime. Loyola emerged victorious after the extra time to collect its ninth consecutive win, a feat accomplished by only one other team in program history.
The Greyhound set a new record with 15 conference wins during the regular season including a nine game win-streak. The impressive season did not go unnoticed by the conference as three Loyola players earned post-season accolades. Miriam McKenzie was named to the All-MAAC First Team for her second year in a row, while Katie Sheahin and Erica DiClemente both earned All-MAAC Second Team honors. The Greyhounds tied with Marist for the most players from one school to received postseason honors.
Still to be announced at the annual Awards Reception Thursday night in Bridgeport, Conn., are the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, for which Sheahin is a is a candidate as a member of the All-MAAC Second Team; the MAAC Sixth Man of the Year, for which Candice Walker was nominated; and the MAAC Coach of the Year, for which Head Coach Joe Logan is a candidate.