The streak continued for Loyola’s women’s basketball team as the Wolf Pack stayed undefeated with a 68-55 win against Xavier on Wednesday at Xavier’s Convocation Center.
“I felt like in the second half they went on runs, as they will, and we weren’t scoring,” Loyola coach Kellie Kennedy said. “I felt like we maintained our composure and with a team like Xavier, that’s really important.”
For Loyola (13-0), Janeicia Neely led all scorers with 21 points while Megan Whittaker scored 17. Meghan Temple had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“Janeicia Neely was going well for us,” Kennedy said. “She really had a composed complete game, and I think she did it on both ends of the floor.”
Loyola finished with 41.1 percent shooting from the field and 31.6 percent from the 3-point arc. Whittaker made five of her nine 3-point attempts.
Xavier (8-9) was led by Whitney Gathright’s 20 points, while Vinnie Briggs finished with 13.
The Gold Nuggets finished with 29.5 percent field goal shooting and went 35.7 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
“They played extremely well tonight,” Xavier coach Bo Browder said. “You play the seventh-ranked team in the country, they’re worth every bit of it. The bottom line is they deserve to be ranked seventh. “
Browder praised his team’s defense.
“Defensivewise, we did a pretty good job on them,” he said. “We struggled scoring tonight also, but they had a lot to do with that.”
While Loyola held the lead for the first half, Xavier cut the advantage to 35-28 by halftime.
The Wolf Pack amassed an 18-7 lead by the 10:22 mark of the first half with Neely scoring 11 of those points.
After a 3-pointer by Whittaker, Gathright hit her own shot from behind the arc that cut the Loyola lead to 5-3. Neely then hit a shot down low that extended the lead to 7-3 lead with 16:22 left.
About one minute later, she then made a layup and after Temple made two free throws, the Wolf Pack had an 11-3 lead with 14:29 left.
Neely led the Wolf Pack at halftime with 15 points while Whittaker added nine. Temple had a team-high seven rebounds. Loyola shot 50 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
For the Gold Nuggets, Briggs had a team-high first-half 10 points and four rebounds. Xavier shot 33.3 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
Both teams had 18 rebounds at halftime.
It didn’t take long for the Wolf Pack in the second half as they opened with a 9-5 scoring surge.
Loyola scored five straight points, which was capped by Temple’s 3-pointer that gave her team a 40-28 advantage with 19:11 left.
Xavier’s Alesha Smith then hit a jump shot and completed the 3-point play to cut the lead to 40-31 with 18:38 left.
The Gold Nuggets chipped away at Loyola’s lead as Briggs made a put back to cut the lead to 59-49 with 4:30 left.