All posts by gregorymelo2019

Ramblers Senior Day spoiled, fall to Lady Bears 85-58

Greg Melo
Medill Reports

On a day meant to celebrate seniors of Loyola women’s basketball, a freshman stole the show Sunday afternoon as forward Jasmine Franklin and the Missouri State Lady Bears defeated the Ramblers 85-58.

The Lady Bears came out of the gates on fire as they drained their first 6 shots from the floor. Franklin (18 points, 7 rebounds) had the soft touch going inside and in the mid-range for Missouri State, starting out 3 of 3 from the field. She was a defensive presence early and had an emphatic block on a lay-up attempt from Loyola guard Jazmine Covington.

Ramblers and Lady Bears starters line up for tip-off (Greg Melo/Medill Reports)

The Ramblers stood their ground in the early going, almost matching the Lady Bears high-octane attack basket for basket. After a tough lay-up converted by senior guard Citiana Negatu, the Ramblers were able to cut the lead to one possession, 10-12, with 4:59 remaining in the first quarter.

Following the media timeout, the Ramblers came out with a spark. After a Missouri State score, Loyola guard Tiara Wallace forced a turnover on a Lady Bear fast break opportunity and forward Abby O’Connor (16 points, 5 rebounds) banged home a triple on the other end to cut the deficit to 1. The Ramblers would finish the quarter on a 7-2 run, leading the Lady Bears 20-16.

The Lady Bears did not relinquish the lead for long, coming out of the quarter break on a 7-0 run to grab a 23-20 lead. O’Connor answered with a 3-point play with 7 minutes to play to knot up the scoring once again, and followed a Lady Bear basket with another triple to give the Ramblers a brief 26-25 lead.

With the score 28-27 in favor of Loyola after a timeout with 4:13 to play, the Lady Bears switched up their defensive scheme. A half-court trap out of a 2-3 zone gave the Ramblers fits, forcing them to cough up the ball on several possessions. The Lady Bears seized their opportunity and closed the half on an 8-3 run, leading the Ramblers 35-31 at the break.

“I thought we played a really good first half,” Loyola Coach Kate Achter said. “I thought our kids competed. And then the little things that we needed to stay in the game, we couldn’t quite execute.”

The second half presented a change in tempo, as both teams started out slow. But after a score by the Ramblers, the Lady Bears went on a 12-2 run on a flurry of scoring by Franklin, guard Brice Callip (8 points) and forward Abby Hipp (9 points, 7 rebounds) to give them a comfortable 47-35 lead with 5:48 left in the third.

After the media timeout, Loyola started to chip away at the lead. Guard Ellie Rice (11 points, 4 assists) contributed a fast 5 points and helped engineer a 7-2 run for the Ramblers. Although the Lady Bears 2-3 zone forced the Ramblers to be smarter with the ball, Loyola seemed to make adjustments and only trailed 42-49 with 3:30 left in the quarter.

The Lady Bears still managed to keep the Ramblers at arms-length the rest of the way. After guard Elle Ruffridge ripped off 8 straight points, Missouri State kicked their offense back into high gear. Closing the third on a 12-5 run, the Lady Bears led 61-47 heading into the final period.

The Lady Bears continued to put the pedal down to start the fourth. The Lady Bears finished with 24 points the rest of the way to put the game away. Turnovers by Loyola, 21 for the game, and a dominance by Missouri State on the glass (48 rebounds, 21 of which were offensive) kept the Ramblers from establishing any types of runs down the stretch.

“They ran it [the zone] against us last time,” Rice said. “We were definitely expecting it. They come out with a lot of energy, so we just need to do a better job of taking care of the ball going forward.”

Additionally, Missouri State’s depth shined out in this game. The Lady Bears scored 40 points off the bench, playing 13 total players — more than the Ramblers rostered for the entire season.

“Depth is certainly an issue,” Achter said. “It’s really hard right now because we’re another guard down. Offensively that hurts us…Our freshmen and sophomores have played enough minutes to be considered sophomores and juniors.”

The Ramblers have no more remaining home games, finishing with a record of 8-7 at Gentile Arena. The Ramblers will play out the rest of the season on the road with games at Illinois State, at Bradley, and at Valparaiso.

Today’s loss brings them to 6-9 in conference play and dropped them to seventh in the Valley. They will have 3 more opportunities to turn it around and try and secure a top six seed and first round bye in the Valley’s conference tournament.

Photo at top: Loyola Ramblers forward Abby O’Connor shows active hands as Lady Bear guard Sydney Wilson looks to make the pass. (Greg Melo/Medill Reports)

Ramblers win streak snapped as they fall to Salukis 41-64

By Greg Melo
Medill Reports

In a battle between two women’s basketball teams vying for better seeding in the middle of the pack for the Missouri Valley Conference, the Loyola Ramblers fell to the Southern Illinois Salukis 41-64 on Friday night at Gentile Arena.

Loyola started out strong in the contest as forward Abby O’Connor came to play right out of the gate, igniting the Ramblers efficient start with a quick 9 points and leading them to a 9-5 lead into the first timeout. On the other end, Ramblers guard Tiara Wallace, along with O’Connor, anchored a defensive unit that forced an early 3 turnovers 6 minutes into the quarter. Continue reading

Adam Silver on NBA’s role in equality and inclusion

By Greg Melo
Medill Reports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The elephant in the room during All-Star weekend was the “bumps in the road” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged during his annual news conference: North Carolina’s recent history regarding LGBTQ rights and its impact on staging the event.

The heart of Silver’s opening statement detailed what it took for the NBA to feel comfortable hosting its showcase event in Charlotte two years after it was originally scheduled to be here. After Charlotte had been awarded the 2017 All-Star game, the North Carolina state legislature passed a bill known as HB2, which, among other things, required that citizens go to the bathroom of their assigned birth sex. The legislation created a sense of panic in the LGBTQ community and in 2016 the NBA switched the site of the 2017 All-Star game to New Orleans. The so-called “Bathroom Bill” was eventually repealed, thanks in part to the pressure put on North Carolina by corporate entities like the NBA, NCAA, and PayPal. Silver credited the efforts of Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan and team president Fred Whitfield as well.
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Ben Simmons at home among the stars

By Greg Melo
Medill Reports

CHARLOTTE, N.C.– Ben Simmons had no issues with fitting in when it came to the scrum of reporters around him on Friday morning.

The second-year Rising Star and first-time All-Star looked like he belonged, joking with some of the reporters who threw some off-the-wall questions at him, and thoughtfully responding to the questions about basketball, his brand, and his hopes to use the Rising Stars Challenge stage to influence the league.

“It’s just another platform and opportunity for us to come out here and show what we can do.” Simmons said. “I love being a part of the World team. I love coming to an event like this and playing with guys from all over.”
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Ramblers look to block the outside noise as they finish off tough 5 game stretch

Greg Melo
Medill Reports

 In college sports, conference play is king. And for a young Loyola women’s basketball team,  Missouri Valley conference games have presented a mix of ups and downs.

After a weekend split against Illinois State and Bradley, Loyola finds itself tied for the fifth spot in the Valley. With the top 6 seeds getting a bye in the conference tournament in March, the Ramblers appear to be in prime position.

Yet the true test will come this weekend, when they face off against two of the top three teams in the Valley: the University of Northern Iowa and Drake University – a team that has only lost one conference game since 2016. Third-year coach Kate Achter faces the challenge of keeping a relatively inexperienced squad on the level. Continue reading

Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball season in review

Greg Melo
Medill Reports

As the calendar flipped from 2018 to 2019, Missouri Valley Conference games officially kicked into full gear with teams  jockeying for position in lieu of March’s tournament in Quad Cities in Moline. With conference play in full swing, here is a look at the current state of the MVC standings and what each team’s outlook is as we move into February.

All stats and records are provided courtesy of  Missouri Valley Conference. Continue reading Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball season in review

Loyola Ramblers edge out the Evansville Purple Aces 61-56

Greg Melo
Medill Reports

With the final score landing a little too close for comfort, the Loyola Ramblers defeated the Evansville Purple Aces 61-56 to capture their second win in Missouri Valley Conference play.

With 22 seconds remaining in the game, it looked like it might be all over. Loyola guard Ellie Rice had just sunk a pair of free throws that pushed the Ramblers to a 59-50 lead. But Evansville had no plans to give it up. 

Purple Aces guard Kerri Gasper converted a 3-point play with 19.8 seconds to go. Then, following a Ramblers turnover, she cut her team’s deficit in half to 59-56  with a 3-point shot and two seconds left. But the Ramblers were able to squash the late rally, as forward Abby O’Connor iced the game with a pair of free throws before time expired. Continue reading