Without McKenzie, Loyola women can't keep up with Virginia in WNIT

Despite Sheahin's 24 points, Greyhounds fall in second round, 71-49

March 20, 2011|By Ken Murray, The Baltimore Sun

A bigger, deeper, faster Virginia team closed down the Loyola women's magical season Sunday, dealing the Greyhounds a 71-49 loss at Reitz Arena in the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament.

Playing without Miriam McKenzie, Loyola's leading scorer and rebounder, the Greyhounds (21-13) became a one-woman offense, and although sophomore guard Katie Sheahin fired in 24 points, it wasn't nearly enough to offset Virginia's balance and depth.

With McKenzie (Oakland Mills) on the bench, her right elbow in a half cast, the Greyhounds got off to a horrendous 2-for-10 shooting start. Virginia (18-15) led by 18 points in the first half before Loyola regrouped at halftime and twice cut the deficit to 10 points.

"You lose her rebounds, you lose her points, all those things," Loyola coach Joe Logan said about McKenzie, who might require surgery on her right elbow. "But it's about matchups, and I think they gained an advantage by her not being in the game."

Virginia's outgoing coach, Debbie Ryan, acknowledged as much. Ryan used freshman guard Ataira Franklin on Sheahin instead of McKenzie and spelled her with Whitny Edwards before finishing with China Crosby at game's end.

Sheahin still got off 23 shots in a rugged performance that drew praise from Ryan.

"We did everything we could to stop her, but obviously, we didn't do enough," the Cavaliers coach said. "She's just a really strong player."

Sheahin hit the deck often while going to the basket and trying to maneuver around Virginia's defense. "I'm used to being on the floor," she said. "I have two older brothers, and I'm used to being beaten up."

In a concession to Virginia's fast break, Logan had players dropping back at the offensive end. But it came at a cost. The Greyhounds took no offensive rebounds in the first half and finished with just four, compared with Virginia's 17. The Cavaliers scored 16 second-chance points and 23 off 17 Loyola turnovers.

Ryan's plan was to run the floor, "make or miss," and get off quick shots to prevent Loyola from controlling tempo.

Loyola persevered, though, and got within 10 (42-32) in the first three minutes of the second half before a timeout called by Ryan restored order for the Cavs.

The Greyhounds made one last charge and got within 59-49 with 4:20 to go. But once again, Ryan used a timeout to refocus her team, and Virginia scored the game's final 12 points.

The loss ended the college careers of Erica DiClemente (nine points, five rebounds), Meredith Tolley (seven, seven) and Melissa Bangay in a season in which the Greyhounds set a school record with 15 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference wins, tied a record with 21 overall, and posted the school's first postseason win.

"It's really sad, and it's going to be an empty feeling tomorrow," Logan said. "But in a couple weeks, we're going to look back and realize what these guys accomplished over the course of the season, and that'll be a positive in the long run."

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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