INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Loyola University New Orleans women’s basketball couldn’t overcome a slow start offensively Wednesday morning, falling to the University of Great Falls Argonauts 73-54 in the first round of the NAIA Division I women’s basketball national championship.
The Wolf Pack made just seven field goals on 30 attempts in the first half, and the Argonauts (23-9) used a 13-5 run over four minutes to open up a 31-20 halftime lead.
Senior Janeicia Neely did everything she could in the second half to keep the Wolf Pack (27-4) within striking distance, scoring 20 of her game high 26 points in the last 20 minutes.
But the Argos went on a 15-6 run to open up a 19-point lead with 14:07 to play. And Loyola was unable to get enough stops down the stretch as the Argos stretched their lead to 22 with just under four minutes remaining.
Erin Legel had 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for Great Falls. Abramson grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and scored 22 points, and Darah Huertas-Vining had 12 points and four rebounds.
Neely had 11 rebounds for Loyola, and Adrianne Sloboh scored seven points and had six rebounds.
“It’s tough to end the season that way,” Loyola coach Kellie Kennedy said. “It wasn’t a true representation of our group, and that’s what’s hard. That’s just the way this game is sometimes. Some days you’re on it, and some days you just can’t find a way to make it happen. I think we kind of had one of those days.”
Loyola’s 27 wins are the second-most in school history, and the Wolf Pack’s winning percentage of .871 set a school record. The Pack also won its first Southern States Athletic Conference turnament championship.
“The way we ended the season doesn’t define us, and I wanted our team to understand that, and to understand just how special our season was,” Kennedy said. “To only lose four games on the year, one of them being in the national tournament, and to win 27 games is just not something that is easy to do or happens very often. And I want our players to understand that.”
Neely finished her college career with 1,535 points, 467 assists and 457 rebounds. Megan Whittaker scored 676 points and had 227 rebounds, 187 3-pointers and 103 assists in her two-year career with Loyola. Rebekah Greer had 575 points, 234 rebounds, 177 assists and 120 steals in her time at Loyola.