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Hounds advance with 78-50 blowout of Lehigh

Senior Lauren Daugherty led Loyola with 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting with two made 3-pointers as the Hounds advance to the quarterfinals of the Patriot League tournament.

As their head coach put it, February was not kind to the Loyola Greyhounds women’s basketball team. But March so far has been pretty good for them.

The Greyhounds didn’t win a game in February, suffering eight-straight defeated. But their season finale was on March 1, and they went to Holy Cross and earned a huge win that secured a first-round home game for them in the Patriot League tournament, and gave them momentum heading into that game.

On Saturday night the Greyhounds earned their second victory in the month of March as they blew past the visiting Lehigh Mountain Hawks, 78-50, in their postseason opener at Reitz Arena.

Loyola shot 48.3-percent from the floor and made 12 3-pointers while a quartet of scorers reached double-digits. And from the very beginning of the game showed it was going to be their night.

“This year we’ve been consistently inconsistent but right now we’re in a bit of a stride,” Loyola head coach Joe Logan said. “I’m really proud of our kids because sometimes they don’t get to see the rewards of their work but right now they’re seeing that there is a process to the year and you have to stay the course.”

Senior Lauren Daugherty led Loyola with 21 points while sophomore post Stephanie Karcz had a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double with an additional six assists and three steals. Each of those inside players hit 3-pointers in the game, but space for them to work around so effectively inside was created by freshman wing Molly Taylor and junior point guard Bri Betz-White, who earned All-Patriot League First Team honors this year. They combined for seven made 3-pointer in the game as they scored 16 and 12 points, respectively.

Heading into the game, the team was averaging just under six made triples per game, but with the groove the team is in, they were able to exploit the long-range shot to pull away from their opponent.

“I think it’s the confidence and once you’re up the basket gets a little bigger, you get a little looser and you’re able to make baskets down the stretch,” Logan said.

Loyola’s 12 made 3-pointers ties Loyola’s third-best single game performance from outside. Loyola’s 28-point win blew away the previous largest margin of victory in a Patriot League first round game (men’s and women’s game) and their 78 points was just two shy of the first round scoring record set by Colgate last season.

“Coming off that win at Holy Cross we played great and as a team played together and we just wanted to continue that here,” Karcz said. “We shared the ball well and took the right shots. We have great chemistry and know where each other are. I just think it was heart today.”

Maybe it was just heart, but the Greyhounds are an interesting team in this year’s Patriot League tournament. Last year, this squad was in the championship game. They have may veterans, including the league’s best point guard, and know exactly what it takes to make a run in a tournament setting like this.

And their freshmen. Taylor and Karcz, have had significant roles on this team have loaded up on the number of minutes played. Karcz was named to both the Patriot League All-Defensive Team and All-Rookie team after starting 22 games, leading the Patriot League with 72 steals and blossoming into a true post threat as the year went on.

“Steph has progressed tremendously in general as a player,” Daugherty said. “Coming into this summer she did not have an outside shot what so ever. It’s really great to see her now get that outside shot and be a threat so people can’t just sit in the paint. And inside I think people underestimate her. She’s only 5-foot-10, but she’s a strong girl and can get what she wants most times on the block.”

Another huge reason for Loyola’s success against Lehigh in the tournament was the play of Lisa Mirarchi. She had seven points and five assists, but her top-notch defense limited Mountain Hawk guard Quinci Mann to only six points on a trying 2-for-9 effort from the floor. Mann led Lehigh with 15.8 points per game this season and against Loyola in their two previous meeting she averaged 21 points per game. Mirarchi figured her out, though, and that led to both her and the Mountain Hawks to scoring well below their season averages. Lehigh was scoring 63.2 points per game heading into the contests.

The Greyhounds will have a quick turnaround in the tournament and will travel to Bucknell on Monday to play the Bison in a quarterfinals matchup at 7 pm.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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