Women’s basketball hits top 10 national ranking


Ryan Talley

The Loyola women’s basketball team played William Carey University on Dec. 1. They hit the NAIA top 10 ranking for the first time since 2015.

Matthew Richards, Asst Sports

The women’s basketball team has had a successful first half of the season, highlighted by a ranking of No. 10 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics top 25 polls.

This is their highest ranking since March of 2015. The team opened the season with a 84-68 upset victory over Southeastern University in Florida, who were ranked No. 6 at the time. 

“I’d say that we’ve done really well so far this year,” said head coach Kellie Kennedy. “This team is very experienced and very talented and has been playing really good basketball. We’ve got some really great young women on the team right now, and I think our ranking is a reflection of that,”

The roster is full of veteran players this season, as their eight senior and fifth year players have led the team through their strong start.

“They’re a really smart group of women, and their knowledge of what we’re trying to do and what I expect from them has all kind of seamlessly been implemented,” Kennedy said. “And that really gives us the flexibility to add new things to our system and have the players pick it up easily because of the foundational knowledge that they already have.”

Senior forward Sandra Cannady has led the team averaging 17.4 points and 11 rebounds per game, good for fourth and third place in the Southern States Athletic Conference.

“Because we had so few changes on the roster, I know who I’m playing with, where they’re going to be, what they’re going to do,” Cannady said. “And because we have that chemistry and we’re all on the same page, it’s allowed us all to get better.” 

Those statistics have also earned Cannady two Conference Player of the Week awards this season. 

“It felt great, honestly,” Cannady said. “It’s the first time I’ve received the award in my career, so it was pretty special. I changed my approach and mentality this year because I didn’t finish last season the way I wanted to, and that award helped validate that

 I’m headed toward where I want to be and help my teammates win.” 

The team is heading into conference play with the goal of defending their regular season conference title from last season, but are making sure to maintain focus on each game in front of them, according to Kennedy. 

“Our mindset isn’t a whole lot different heading into conference play than it was at the beginning of the year,” Kennedy said. “We’re still taking it one game at a time. The team has a focused mindset of what they want to do, where they want to be, and what it takes to get there. We know that there’s pressure on us to defend our title, but we’re used to that. We view the pressure as a privilege because of what we were able to do to get it.” 

The Wolf Pack will start the second half of the season with a matchup against Faulkner University in Montgomery on Jan. 3, and will return home on Jan. 7 to face Talladega College.