(Blue Mountain, Miss.) – In front of a sold-out crowd at the Tyler Gymnasium, the (RV) Loyola University New Orleans basketball team entered Saturday’s game against Blue Mountain College with a lot at stake. Holding the tiebreaker over No. 14 Bethel University in the conference standings, the Wolf Pack just needed to beat the Lady Toppers on the road to clinch the program’s second Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Regular Season Championship.
Despite all this added pressure, the Wolf Pack went out on Saturday and easily handled its business. Led by 22 points and eight rebounds by Meghan Temple (SR/Houston, Texas), Loyola defeated the Lady Toppers 94-68 to clinch the conference title outright and earn the automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament.
With the victory – it’s seventh in a row – Loyola ends the regular season at 25-5 overall and 17-3 in SSAC games backed by an impressive 13-1 mark at First NBC Court.
Aside from the conference championship, there was also an individual achievement on the line as senior guard Kylah Jones (SR/Houston, Texas) entered Saturday’s contest just eight points away from reaching the 1000 career points plateau. The lead guard reached that milestone and then some as she poured in 14 points in 27 minutes played to join Temple as Loyola women’s basketball players to reach 1000 career points this season.
Di’Mond Jackson (JR/Baton Rouge, La.) continued her exceptional play against the Lady Toppers with 13 points to go along with a team-high eight assists and six rebounds. Off the bench, Zoie Miller (JR/Frisco, Texas) added 17 points to lead a Loyola bench unit that outscored Blue Mountain’s group 36-10 on Saturday.
Andrea Lewis’s 15 points led three Lady Toppers in double figures. Jasmine Allen chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds in the loss while Madison McCreless added 13 points before fouling out.
The Wolf Pack shot 35-of-60 (58%) from the field while converting on 7-of-18 (39%) shots from beyond the arc. A look at the scoresheet shows Loyola besting the Lady Toppers in nearly every statistical category, highlighted by a 16-8 advantage in assists.
The first half saw both teams battle to hold the lead. When the buzzer sounded on the opening half, Loyola held the slim 42-41 advantage on the road.
The Wolf Pack began to put the game out of reach in the third quarter, building its lead to as many as 18 points midway through the frame. Heading into the final 10 minutes of action, the visitors enjoyed a 67-55 cushion.
Already up 15 points in the fourth, the Wolf Pack ended the game on an 11-0 run to hand the Lady Toppers the 94-68 loss at home.
Pairings and seedings for the 2017 SSAC Championship will be released this evening. Be sure to follow the Wolf Pack on Twitter (@loyolawolfpack) and Facebook (/loyolawolfpack) to get all the latest news and updates.