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<i>Buon Giorno!</i> - Loyola Women's Basketball Italian Countryside Tour - Day Eight

Aug. 28, 2008

Welcome to "Buon Giorno!" a daily diary of the Loyola women's basketball team's trip to Italy. Check back to loyolagreyhounds.com for daily photo galleries and updates on the trip.

Day Eight - Photo Gallery
Day Seven Update
Day Seven - Photo Gallery
Day Six Update
Day Five and Six - Photo Gallery
Day Five Update
Day Four Update
Day Four - Photo Gallery
Day Three Update
Day Three - Photo Gallery
Day Two - Photo Gallery
Day Two Update
Day One Update

Day One - Photo Gallery

ROME, Italy - All good things must come to an end, and for the Loyola women's basketball team, its wonderful tour of Italy will on Friday morning.

However, there was plenty on the agenda for the group's final day in Rome. First, a tour of the Vatican and later a game against Palestrina Pool, an Italian `A' Division team.

Fabio, a tour guide for the Vatican met the team at its hotel early in the morning, and the group drove across the city to the holy state.

There, the guide took them through the Vatican museum where many timeless pieces of art, each depicting various Biblical scenes are displayed.

The intricacies of many of the pieces, from hand-woven rugs that measure 20-feet by 20-feet, to painted walls and ceilings that looked like they were in three dimensions rather than two, to mosaic tiles in the floors and walls with pieces that were less than a inch wide.

After leaving the museum, the group was led into the Sistine Chapel, a work of art that is known worldwide. Prior to arriving at the Chapel, most of the group believed that Michelangelo painted the ceiling while working on his back, but Fabio explained that he was instead standing with his neck tilted at a 90-degree angle.

The time that it must have took to paint with the detail of the work is amazing. Even though the group was standing 50 or more feet below the ceiling, every detail was evident to the naked eye.

No pictures are supposed to be taken in the Chapel, nor are visitors supposed to talk while in the venue. Despite the rules, the two Swiss guards in the Chapel are no match for the visitors that number in the hundreds.

It is not out of disrespect for the Chapel, but visitors speak to each other in hushed whispers of amazement in the beauty, and there is a great temptation to take pictures to remember the visit.

Next on the tour, the group walked down a hall that had doors to Pope Benedict XIV's apartment, but no view of him was of course available.

Saint Peter's Basillica was next, another area that is almost unbelievable in its eye-appeal. Built over the tomb of St. Peter, who was crucified in Rome, the Basillica is the largest church in Christendom.

The inside of the building is so long, almost three football fields from end-to-end, you could fit the Coliseum within its walls.

There are 11 domes in the building, including the main one over the altar, each is hand-painted with more Biblical drawings or other art.

Several Popes have been preserved and buried in the Basillica, and one of the chapels within the structure is still used to this day for weddings.

Outside of the doors, the view opens into the massive St. Peter's Square, the famed area where the Pope addresses the masses on Sunday morning, Midnight Mass is performed on Christmas Eve, and a sunrise service is presented on Easter Sunday.

The group posed for several pictures outside of the doors with fountains and huge Roman columns visible in the background.

Loyola team members and others on the staff had over two hours of free time to explore the rest of the Vatican and the surrounding areas. Most took time to have lunch and buy their final souvenirs for the trip home.

After returning to the hotel, and a brief rest before the game, the group reboarded the bus and headed a hour southeast of Rome to Palestrina, a small town in the Southern Italy hills.

The Palestrina Pool team, the best squad Loyola has faced since its opening game of the trip against the Swiss National Team, awaited the Greyhounds' fourth and final game in Italy. Despite the team's talent, Loyola came away with a 121-54 victory and a 3-1 record on the tour.

"This has been an amazing experience for everyone who was here, especially the players," Head Coach Joe Logan said. "Not only did we get a chance to play a lot of basketball, and learn a tremendous amount about ourselves as a team, but the cultural and historical experience is something that outweighs what we did on the court.

"We spent 10 days together in fairly close quarters, and that was a great thing. We bonded as a team, staff and a group in general. Now, we are looking forward to carrying this momentum back to Baltimore."

Although the teams traded baskets in the first few minutes, the Greyhounds went on an 18-1 run over the span of five minutes to go ahead, 25-6 with 3:30 left in the first quarter.

Palestrina scored five in a row, but Loyola closed the quarter with six points, four from Kaitlin Grant and two by Meredith Tolley.

The Greyhounds put the game out of reach in the second quarter when four free throws helped Siobhan Prior get hot. The senior guard made four free throws, then scored nine-straight Loyola points from the field, giving the team a 51-20 lead with just under four minutes left in the half.

Prior continued to shoot well in the quarter, taking a pass off the wing from Devon Carey to make a 3-pointer with four second left, sending the Greyhounds into halftime with a 64-27 lead.

Loyola continued to shoot well in the second half, 55.6-percent after the break and 54.3-percent overall in the game. The Greyhounds also held a large rebounding advantage and recorded assists on 28 of their 44 field goals.

Grant led all players with 27 points, making 10-of-12 shots from the field and 7-of-8 from the field. She also had a game-high 14 rebounds.

Prior finished right behind the junior forward with 26 points and added five assists. Candice Walker and Grant led the team with six assists each.

Erica DiClemente scored 21 points, and Tolley recorded a double-double with 20 points and 13 boards. Alex Berlin added 12 points, and Melissa Bangay grabbed 10 rebounds.

Grant, who scored 23 points in Loyola's last game of the trip, led the Greyhounds with 17.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game on the trip. Tolley averaged 14.5 points and 10.3 rebounds, while Prior and DiClemente had scoring averages of 13.8 and 12.8 points per game.

Walker led the team with 4.3 assists per game, and Grant paced the team with 4.5 steals per game.

Friday morning, the Greyhounds have an early wake-up call and head to the airport for the return to the United States.

Check back to loyolagreyhounds.com over the next few days for a wrap-up with more multimedia from the team. Ciao!