It was an obvious moral victory for the Indiana State women Sunday in Hulman Center, but that didn’t make the Sycamores’ 58-51 Missouri Valley Conference loss to Loyola any easier to take.

Coming on the heels of a disappoint-ing loss on Friday to Valparaiso, ISU got off to a great start and played ferocious defense. “WOW, did we play hard,” was coach Vicki Hall’s exclamation at the start of the postgame press conference. Loyola’s two top scorers combined for just 13 points.

But the Sycamores missed half their free throws and more than half of their shots around the basket. That was enough to make a difference in a game when the big shot refused to fall on numerous occasions.

“We need to shoot our free throws a little better,” Hall said afterward. “We need to improve our 3-point percentage [2 for 14 on Sunday] and we need to win more battles on the boards.

“But we were so close,” she added, “and that’s tough. Because [Loyola is] a good team [whose only MVC loss came in overtime to 20th-ranked Missouri State]. I’m disappointed for the girls.”

ISU had a 6-0 lead on two baskets by Jamyra McChristine and one by CeCe Mayo, and was still up 10-4 after Jasmine Elder scored, then stole the ball to set up a layup by Marie Hunter. 

But McChristine had her second foul by that time, and Mayo picked up two early in the second quarter. By the time Mayo had picked up her second, the Ramblers had taken their first lead at 14-13 on a 3-pointer by Abby O’Connor and that started a 12-3 run that put the visitors up 23-16 at halftime.

Then came the frustrating second half. ISU would repeatedly inch closer, but never reach the summit.

Offensive rebound baskets by McChristine cut Loyola’s margin to 28-25, then 30-27. Then Mayo earned a three-point play off another offensive rebound and it was 32-30.

The Sycamores missed a 3-pointer for the lead, then a layup for the tie, and Loyola’s Janae Gonzales hit one of her 3-pointers to rebuild the lead to five.

ISU got within 35-33, then 37-35, then 39-37, but Tiara Wallace drew a foul with less than two seconds remaining in the third quarter and sank both free throws.

The Ramblers scored first in the fourth quarter, but then Mayo hit a 3-pointer and added a free throw on the next possession to get ISU within 43-41. When the lead reached 49-41 it appeared the Sycamores might be finished, but then Elder scored once and McChristine twice. It was 49-47 with 4:02 to play.

But Mayo picked up her fourth foul with 3:35 left, and Sam Galanopoulos hit one of two free throws. ISU missed a shot, Loyola made one, and it was 52-47. Free throws by Sommer Pitzer made it a three-point game, but Loyola’s Kat Nolan scored twice — once seemingly outside her comfort zone — with an ISU missed layup between them.

“We executed our stuff a lot better,” Hall said, “and defensively we played very well . . . but we missed some bunnies.”

Foul trouble, McChristine said, had been a big problem on Friday. “We had foul trouble today too, but my team had my back,” she said Sunday. “We had gears, we had go. We were ready.”

“We brought more energy and intensity today,” Mayo added, “but we’ve got to finish. We’ve got to finish with contact.”

Mayo and McChristine had the stats for ISU on Sunday, Mayo with a game-high 15 points plus eight rebounds and McChristine with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Gonzales was Loyola’s only double-figure scorer with 12 points. Returning all-MVC player O’Connor was held to nine and center Allison Day, the Rambler’s second-leading scorer, had just four on 2-for-10 shooting. But the Sycamores allowed guard Ellie Rice to come up with a game-high 12 rebounds, including four in the crucial fourth quarter.


LOYOLA (58) — O’Connor 3-11 2-4 9, Day 2-10 0-0 4, Rice 3-7 2-4 8, Wallace 1-3 4-5 6, Gonzales 4-8 0-0 12, Nolan 4-10 0-0 8, Johnson 2-3 0-0 4, Galanopoulos 2-4 1-2 5, Hoefling 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 22-58 FG, 9-15 FT, 58 TP.

INDIANA STATE (51) — McChristine 6-8 1-2 13, Mayo 5-10 4-5 15, Pitzer 0-7 2-2 2, Hunter 2-9 0-0 4, Williams 2-5 0-2 5, Westerfeld 0-4 1-2 1, Elder 2-5 0-1 4, Anderson 2-7 1-2 5, Folks 0-0 0-0 0, Dean 1-2 0-2 2, Robben 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-57 FG, 9-18 FT, 51 TP.

Loyola 6 17 18 17 — 58

Indiana State 11 5 21 14 — 51

3-point shooting — Loyola 5-17 (Gonzales 4-6, O’Connor 1-6, Rice 0-1, Wallace 0-1, Hoefling 0-1, Nolan 0-2), ISU 2-14 (Williams 1-2, Mayo 1-3, Hunter 0-2, Elder 0-2, Pitzer 0-5). Total fouls — Loyola 14, ISU 18. Fouled out — none. Turnovers — Loyola 11 (O’Connor 2, Gonzales 2, Nolan 2, Hoefling 2), ISU 11 (Mayo 3, McChristine 2, Hunter 2, Elder 2, Williams, Folks). Rebounds — Loyola 43 (Rice 12), ISU 38 (McChristine 10, Mayo 8, Westerfeld 5, Anderson 4, Pitzer 3, Hunter 2, Elder 2, Dean 2, Williams, Team 1). Assists — Loyola 10 (Wallace 5), ISU 13 (Williams 5, Mayo 2, Hunter 2, Elder 2, McChristine, Anderson). Steals — Loyola 5 (Rice 2), ISU 7 (Elder 2, Anderson 2, McChristine, Mayo, Westerfeld). Blocks — Loyola 2 (Wallace, Nolan), ISU 2 (Mayo, Robben). Att — 1,344.

Next — Indiana State (2-14, 0-4 Missouri Valley Conference) plays Friday at Drake. Loyola (12-3, 3-1) hosts Bradley that night.


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