FINAL: Loyola 57, Bradley 54
Before the game started, head coaches Allison Guth and Kate Popovec-Goss embraced in a pregame hug. After the game, Guth told me that Popovec had jokingly asked Guth if they could just end the game in a draw. That’s because Guth was able to schedule a game against one of her former players in Bradley’s head coach Popovec-Goss. Popovec was a senior at Northwestern in 2013. That was the same year that Guth started her assistant coaching stint at Northwestern. The game on Saturday was as much about the play on the court, as it was about the chess match between these two impressive head coaches. Guth told us postgame, that she congratulated Popovec after the game by telling her that she had drawn up an excellent play for their best shooter to get a three pointer that would have tied the game at the end of regulation.
How it Happened:
The Ramblers got off to a slow start that was reminiscent of their performances against Miami (Ohio) and UIC last week. In the first half, the Ramblers were only able to muster 19 points. They made only 8 shots and only got to the free throw line twice. I was starting to wonder if their offense needed to be drastically changed. The second half started with two lineup changes – Hoefling and Scarborough were in for Tanin and Brown. Both Hoefling and Scarborough hadn’t played too many critical minutes this season, but Scarborough especially had a major impact in the second half. Sophia Nolan and Sam Galanopoulos paced the Ramblers in the third quarter and brought them back in the game. Nolan had 8 points in the third quarter, and she was able to get to the free throw line consistently in the second half. Galanopoulos scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half.
The Ramblers kept fighting and scraping and clawing away at the Bradley 13 point lead until Galanopoulos gave them the lead briefly on a three pointer midway through the fourth quarter. Bradley would regain the lead, but the Ramblers didn’t show any quit. Now it was time for some other Ramblers to step up and have their moments. Scarborough had a key layup. Tanin scored all 4 of her points with under 5 minutes in the fourth quarter. But the biggest bucket of the day would come from Maya Chandler. Sitori Tanin spotted Chandler and she fired a cross court pass to her. Chandler would take one step back behind the three point line, and drain a three with 33.7 seconds left to put the Ramblers up 2. Loyola wouldn’t give back that lead, and ended up winning 57 – 54.
Maya Chandler showed that she could have an impressive game without leading the Ramblers in scoring. Although she only had 9 points, she had 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and the clutch bucket of the ball game. Her ability to do many things well is a great development for the Ramblers. We saw her grab 11 boards against UW Milwaukee earlier this season, but the 5 assists was a season high. Maddie Scarborough played more than double the amount of minutes she’s played in her college career. She was crucial to the ball movement on offense, and she played a big part in denying Bradley’s shooters open three point opportunities. She played 17.5 of the possible 20 minutes in the second half, and had a +/- of +15. That was by far the best of anyone in the ball game. Coach Guth described Scarborough as “a girl who plays within herself. She’s a we not me player.” If Guth has found a key role player in Maddie Scarborough, that could go a long way to giving this Rambler team some much needed bench production.
Sam Galanopoulos played all 40 minutes, she was a warrior who didn’t need to be subbed out at all during this game. There was a key moment early in the second quarter, where Sam passed up a good look at a three pointer. The team eventually turned the ball over. During the dead ball, Coach Guth shouted from the sidelines “shoot the ball Sam!” She took that message to heart in the second half where she drained two three pointers and scored 13 points. She is so critical to everything Loyola does on both ends of the court. And as Sam so aptly pointed out at the post game press conference, “all you need to do is win by one point”. Well on Saturday I’m sure the team appreciated that three point lead as Bradley’s three point try sailed through the air as time expired. When it went long Sam and her teammates celebrated a win by more than one point.
The Ramblers have two huge games this week. They play DePaul at home on Wednesday at 6pm. And on Saturday they travel to Marquette to take on the #24 ranked Golden Eagles at 2pm. Winning either of these games would be a huge program win for the Ramblers.
Picture h/t Loyola Athletics