The Northern Illinois women’s basketball team dropped its 2011-12 season opener to Loyola 73-42 Sunday afternoon at North Park Gym.
The loss dropped the Huskies (0-1) to 33-22 all-time in season openers.
Loyola (2-0), who came into the game after a 77-34 win at Chicago State Friday, continued to play well against NIU as the Ramblers shot 50 percent (26-50) from the field and held NIU to 25.4 percent shooting (15-59). Loyola also capitalized on 20 Huskie turnovers for 23 points, while NIU forced 16 turnovers but scored only 11 points off the miscues.
“We have to get a lot tougher mentally and physically or it’s going to be a long year,” said second-year NIU head coach Kathi Bennett.
“We have to figure that out by Wednesday to compete with Western Illinois. We have to have carry over from what we do in practice to game time. That’s mental inexperience. But we have to take ownership of the little things: toughness with the ball; not letting players drive baseline; getting a hand up; ball pressure. Just real simple things, and if we can take care of those we are going to get better.”
The Ramblers started the game off with a 7-0 run that was capped by a Patrice King three-pointer at the 15:07 mark of the first half. With an up-tempo style of play, Loyola continued to convert on the offensive end and the Huskies just could not get many of their good looks at the basket to fall.
By the 6:17 mark of the first half, the Ramblers had a 27-6 lead after a pair of Troy Hambric free throws.
Near the end of the half, NIU whittled the deficit down to 15 points, 29-14, following a layup by Danny Pulliam (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) with 1:46 left. But the Ramblers answered with a 5-2 spurt to end the half with a 34-16 edge.
Loyola then stayed hot in the second half, increasing the lead to 41-18 after a Simone Law layup at the 16:17 mark. By the 4:16 mark, the Ramblers built their largest lead of the game, 68-31.
Ashley Sneed (Harvey, Ill./Thornton) provided a spark for the Huskies as she scored a team- and career-high 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field.
“Ashley always plays hard, always puts the time in, and always is trying to do her best. She did have a nice game and it’s nice to see her rewarded.”
The Huskies return to action at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, as they host Western Illinois in their home opener at the NIU Convocation Center. For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.