09-10 Season One For Women's Hoops To Build On

March 12, 2010

Baltimore, Md. - Loyola's 69-55 win at La Salle on Nov. 13 set the tone for the rest of the season.

The Greyhounds got a big win, with a big performance but also suffered a big loss. Thus, the 2009-2010 season began and remained defined by those elements.

Big Wins

The 2009-2010 `Hounds showed that at their best, they are dominant.

Loyola went 2-0 to open the season, defeating the Explorers and Army by a combined 29 points. Their 14 wins came by an average of nearly 10 points. The offense and defense rolled on all cylinders, as the offense remained balanced and the defense regularly limited opponents to low marks shooting marks.

The Greyhounds then opened the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference season by winning four of their first five, and ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak.

Wins against Iona and Saint Peter's highlighted the conference season. The Gaels had amassed a seven-game winning streak against Loyola until the `Hounds 71-59 victory at in New Rochelle, N.Y., on Jan. 3. A week later, Loyola defeated Saint Peter's 69-59 in Jersey City, N.J., winning at the Yanitelli Center for only the third time in program history, and the second win there since 1994.

The Greyhounds were especially effective in transition, and proved to be one of the strongest transition teams in the MAAC. Even a No. 22-ranked Terrapin squad fell victim to the Greyhounds' transition guile, turning the ball over 19 times against Loyola on Dec. 6.

Transition offense helped Loyola to some dramatic comeback victories, the most memorable of which was a last-second nail-biter early in the season at Mount St. Mary's.

After managing just 15 points on a 12.5 percent shooting effort in the first half, a Kaitlin Grant-led revival erased the deficit and went on to record a thrilling, final-second, 48-45 win.

Big Performances

One of the most memorable performances of the season was Grant's performance against the Mount.Grant left the crowd in Emmitsburg, Md., stunned as she recorded 12 steals, the most in a Division I women's basketball game since February 28, 2008, and the 16th most in a single game in DI history. She shattered both the Loyola women's record of eight - she had previously matched that as a junior - and the men's record of 10.

In her final performance at Reitz Arena, Grant tallied five steals, putting her total at 75 for the season, tying her with Lorrie Schenning for the single-season record.

Grant finished her career at No. 19 on Loyola's all-time scoring list and No. 7 on the all-time rebound list.

Miriam McKenzie made big performances a regular this season. The guard had a breakout sophomore campaign, leading the team in scoring, rebounding and assists and earned first-team all-conference accolades. The local product out of nearby Columbia began the season by putting up a career-high 23 points at La Salle, and never looked back.

McKenzie went on to score 20 or more points 11 times and record nine double-doubles. She finished the season as the conference's second-leading scorer, averaging 16.7 points per game, and was No. 6 in the MAAC with 7.6 rebounding average.

At Marist on Jan. 24, McKenzie and Erica DiClemente were not only the two high scorers in the game with 20 and 19 points each, but the duo combined for a furious 16-point rally in the final two minutes of the game that nearly tied it all up at the final buzzer.

Off the court, Mallory Lawes and Melissa Bangay turned in a pair of strong academic performances. Lawes, a sophomore business management major, was named to her first MAAC All-Academic team, while Bangay, a junior advertising and public relations major, made the team for the second time in her career.

Big Losses

The Greyhounds felt the sting of tough losses in two forms: Injuries to starters and several heartbreaking, last-minute losses by just a handful of points.

Nine times the Greyhounds came up short by seven or less points, with four of those losses being by just three or less points. However, in nearly all of those games Loyola had launched a fierce comeback rally and overcame double-digit deficits.

In the first game of the season, junior point guard Candice Walker went down with a foot injury after just 15 minutes and saw her season come to a premature end.

Junior forward Meredith Tolley also went down in the middle of the season, missing three games and seeing limited action throughout December and January. Nagging injuries to Grant also limited her play at times.

But each setback opened the door for a new player to emerge. Senior Devon Carey and freshmen Katie Sheahin and Alyssa Sutherland stepped up to the plate.

Carey, a senior who fought significant injuries throughout most of her career, took over the role of starting point guard. She remained healthy and improved the `Hounds outside game in her final season as a Greyhound.

In a year where freshmen guards dominated the MAAC, Sheahin, a conference all-rookie selection, emerged as one of the best. She averaged 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game this season, and was even better in her nine starts, averaging 11.4 points and 5.6 rebounds, while also leading the `Hounds with 21 blocks and was second on the team with 51 steals.

Sutherland's high-energy playing style and unconventional defense almost never failed to fool opponents, as she was third on the team with 42 steals and was a defensive sparkplug off the bench.

Next season, the Greyhounds will return three of their top four scorers and rebounders, as well as Walker, a former all-conference guard. Lessons learned from this season will be carried over and those three-point losses are likely to turn into 10-point wins.

Ultimately, this season laid a strong foundation for a promising 2010-2011.