Bradley women’s basketball held a lead for over 37 minutes against Loyola Chicago on Saturday, but they were unable to keep it when it mattered the most as the final buzzer sounded on a second-straight loss.
In the first meeting between the former MVC foes since the Ramblers left the conference, the home team took down the visiting Braves 57-54 in a game where Bradley led by as much as 13. It’s another three-point loss for the Braves after they dropped an overtime battle against Kansas City last Tuesday by the same deficit.
The game started off well for Bradley (2-5), as they opened things up with a 9-0 run out of the gate. A three from junior forward Isis Fitch made it 16-6 with 1:27 left in the first quarter, and the Braves ended the frame with an eight point lead. They shot over 50 percent from the field.
Two threes from Bradley and one from Loyola (3-6) made it an 11-point game in the second quarter, until sophomore guard Alex Rouse drove to the basket and cashed in a layup to make it 24-11 Braves with 5:45 left in the half. The teams traded 6-0 runs after that, and Bradley went into the locker room up 30-19.
Down 38-26 in the third, Loyola rattled off a 10-2 run to end the quarter, and suddenly the Ramblers were only down four. The Braves made just three shots the entire frame and none in the final 5:27, shooting an abysmal 20 percent.
The visitors’ drought continued into the fourth, as Loyola kept its run going with five straight points to take their first lead since the beginning of the game at 41-40. On the next possession, the nearly eight-and-a-half minutes of scoreless play finally ended for the Braves when sophomore guard Caroline Waite corralled an airball from Rouse and put it up as the shot clock expired to take the lead again.
Bradley held onto their lead but the Ramblers remained within striking distance, never letting the deficit get higher than five. Then, down by one with 34 seconds to go, Loyola’s Maya Chandler hit her only three of the game to put the Ramblers up 54-52. Her teammate Sam Galanopoulos followed that up with a free throw before Rouse got an easy layup to make it a one-point game with 10 seconds left.
Bradley fouled on the ensuing possession, setting up Galanopoulos for another two free throws to bring the lead back to three, and after a timeout, junior guard Ruba Abo Hashesh could not cash in the last-second 3-pointer as the Braves fell to 2-5.
Bradley shot just 4-20 from beyond the arc after starting 4-8, a season-low percentage that featured no makes in the second half. Rouse and junior Daija Powell led the way with 14 points each while Waite had 12 on 2-9 shooting from three.
The Braves will look to bounce back Tuesday at Eastern Illinois.