Defense shuts down Loyola in 22-point victory
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Assistant coach Kirk Crawford occasionally brings in a group of men to play against the women as part of the scout team, according to senior TaQuandra Mike.
While they do not come every day due to school and work, Mike said the strategy helps the team prepare for high-level offensives.
“When we play against guys, that amps up our practice. So we have to actually play hard because they’re not going to take it easy on us,” Mike said. “I like the fact that they don’t take it easy on us, so that makes us play hard and that’s how we’ll see our opponents.”
Crawford’s move paid off, as the Shockers forced nine steals and 25 turnovers that turned into 32 points as WSU held Loyola to 43 points in a 22-point win at Koch Arena on Friday night.
Loyola’s Brandi Segars pushed the Ramblers out to an early 11-6 lead by knocking in a layup while drawing a foul. The Ramblers shot 45 percent in the first quarter to take command of the first quarter, but a 3-pointer by freshman Kayla Williams cut the lead down 14-13 just before the end of the first quarter.
Two baskets from Mike and junior Angiee Tompkins gave WSU a 19-16 lead with just over seven minutes to play in the second quarter. The Shockers pushed their lead to nine by going on an 8-0 scoring run.
The WSU defense shut down Loyola for the last seven minutes of the first half, not allowing a basket from the Ramblers. The Shockers shot 57 percent in the second quarter, capping off the 22-6 run with a three from junior Tamara Lee and two from Williams.
“I really felt that it was more of our defense that led to easier baskets for us on the other end,” head coach Linda Hargrove said. “We got steals, we forced turnovers during that period and we did a pretty good job of getting the ball inside.”
A post move in the lane by sophomore Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage extended WSU’s lead 39-22. Two baskets inside the paint by Tompkins pushed WSU out to a 20-point advantage, holding Loyola down to only nine points with 16 percent shooting in the third quarter.
Junior Rangie Bessard drove to the basket for a layup that pushed WSU out to a 47-29 lead at the end of the third quarter.
“(Going inside) is where this team is really strong,” Hargrove said. “We’ve got good outside shooters, but I really feel like we need to start with our players inside and getting them the ball, getting them the touches and letting them try to score.”
The Ramblers started the fourth quarter on a 9-0 scoring run, cutting the Shockers’ lead down to single digits with 7:25 left and forcing Hargrove to call a timeout. Tompkins fired back with a layup and Bessard followed with a jumper from the top of the key to move the Shockers back out to a 13-point lead.
WSU’s 9-0 scoring run was capped off by a three from Lee and a basket from Bessard. Tompkins added to the lead by converting a lob from the baseline and a three from junior Diamond Lockhart gave the Shockers a 20-point advantage.
“Coach (Hargrove) was on our tail and telling us what we needed to do,” Tompkins said. “As soon as our coaches called that timeout, got on our behinds, that’s when we picked it up.”
Tompkins led the Shockers with a career-high of 10 rebounds and added 18 points to obtain her first career double double. Bessard scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds off the bench while Mike had eight points with three steals.
WSU (13-13, 8-7) plays Indiana State on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the team’s final home game of the season.