Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Women’s basketball starts season with new faces

Wolf+Pack+basketball+player+Libby+Thompson+shoots+a+basketball+during+a+game+on+Nov.+16%2C+2023.
Sophia Renzi
Wolf Pack basketball player Libby Thompson shoots a basketball during a game on Nov. 16, 2023.

The Loyola women’s basketball team has started their 2023-24 season with a 5-1 record despite significant roster turnover from last year’s team that won 27 games with only three losses.

“We’ve been up and down to start, and played a lot of close games, but that was to be expected,” said head coach Kellie Kennedy. “We have a lot of new players in our program this year, seven newcomers and most of our returners didn’t play much, so more than half of our team is still kind of new in a way.”

The Wolf Pack opened the season with five games in their opening week of play, highlighted by exhibition contests with Division I opponents Tulane University and reigning national champions Louisiana State University.

“After our first game, we played 4 games in 5 days, which was a difficult stretch,” Kennedy stated. “For a couple of those games our best players were injured, but I think we passed those tests with flying colors and we’re a much better team because of it.”

The team is now back at full strength after some early injuries hampered their early momentum and resulted in their lone loss to local rivals Xavier University.

“We weren’t happy with how we performed against Xavier,” said 5th year senior guard and business and marketing major Taylor Thomas, who was playing in her first game back from an ankle injury. “But we’re learning from it. We’re still figuring out how to play with one another and find what is and isn’t working well so we can win games.”

The Wolf Pack would open play in the Southern States Athletic Conference that same week on Nov. 16, with a rematch against their opponent in last season’s conference championship game, Faulkner University.

“The Xavier game was a bit of a wake up call for us, and we knew we didn’t want that to happen again, so we knew we had to come out early and set the tone against Faulkner,” Kennedy stated. “They beat us in the conference championship last season, so we had a little extra incentive to beat them this time around as well.”

The Wolf Pack would emerge with a 91-87 victory over the Eagles, after freshman biochemistry major Libby Thompson, in only her second college game, hit a three pointer to give Loyola the lead with 12 seconds left in the game and avenging the loss they suffered in their last meeting.

The team was led in their victory by 5th year senior forward and psychology major Sandra Cannady, who eclipsed the 1,000 career point mark in this game, along with a new single game career high with 29 points, 13 rebounds, four steals, three assists, and two blocks.

“I really am just so grateful that I was able to reach this milestone, especially in a win,” Cannady said. “I felt a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the game because we didn’t start the way I anticipated we would. After halftime, the game started coming to us, everyone was playing their role, and I am beyond proud of my team because we continued to play hard and do the small things that helped us get our first conference win.”

The victory moved the Wolf Pack to 1-0 in the SSAC and could serve as a crucial point for the rest of their season as the team gets more comfortable with their new talent.

“I’m really excited about the rest of the season,” Thomas said. “We had a really special team last year, and because we lost so many players from that team, no one really thought we would be as good this year. But we have a lot of great new talent this year and I think we’ll be a lot better than people might have thought we would be.”

“We have a lot of new faces, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be as good as we were or even better than last year,” Kennedy said. “It’s going to take a little more time for us to find our footing and get comfortable, but once we do that, we’re going to be a problem for our opponents come the conference tournament and nationals.”

And this year’s team finds themselves with a renewed goal to reclaim their SSAC title after Faulkner halted their quest for a third consecutive championship in February.

“Our main goal is to win the SSAC tournament and take back our title,” Thomas declared. “And we want to make it a lot further at nationals than we did last year. And we know that if we are putting in the work on and off the court, we’re going to accomplish those goals.”

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Matthew Richards, Sports Editor
Matthew is a sophomore mass communications major with a concentration in journalism. He is a New Orleans native who loves talking about the Saints and Pelicans and thinks the Cars franchise is seriously underrated.

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