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Wolfpack Women Win GCAC Tournament Championship

Loyola press release - March 6, 2007

(New Orleans) Number 21 Loyola claimed the program's first GCAC Tournament Championship by defeating Xavier 73-68 Monday night in The Den.

Erica Turnbull opened the scoring as she hit a field goal a minute into the contest to give the Gold Nuggets an early 2-0 advantage. The Wolfpack took their first lead of the game two possessions later when Dani Holland nailed a three-pointer with 17:55 left in the first half to give Loyola a 3-2 lead. That shot started a 19-6 Wolfpack run that lasted 8:26 and was capped by Trenell Smith hitting two free throws to give Loyola a 19-8 lead with 10:02 to play in the period.

The Gold Nuggets responded as Vyaisha Moss's basket sent Xavier on a 22-9 over a 6:54 span to take the Gold Nuggets second lead of the half at 30-28 with 2:12 to play following a Dominee Matthews three-pointer.

Dani Holland nailed another three-pointer on Loyola's ensuing possession to give the Wolfpack the lead for good with 1:52 left in the first half. Loyola scored the final seven points in the half and went into the locker room sporting a 35-30 lead.

Loyola scored the first four points of the second half, off field goals from Trenell Smith and Christine Mainguy to push the advantage to 39-30 with 17:53 to go in the game. Xavier answered, scoring the next six points to cut the Wolfpack advantage to three after an Erica Turnbull basket made the score 39-36 with 15:40 to play. Loyola found the range from distance on the next two Wolfpack possessions as Holland and Trenell Smith each nailed bombs to push the advantage back up to nine at 45-36 with 15:17 to go in the second half.

The Gold Nuggets whittled into the Wolfpack advantage after two Alyssa Thompson free throws cut Loyola's lead down to two at 56-54 with 9:47 to go in the game.Loyola slowly pushed the lead back up and got the advantage back up to eight after Trenese Smith hit one of two free throws to make the score 69-61 with 2:28 to play.The Gold Nuggets would get no closer than four, the last time after Dominee Matthews hit a basket made the score 72-68 Loyola with 26 seconds left. Dani Holland secured the victory hitting one of two free throws with 18 seconds to make the score 73-68.

"Talk about a tremendous atmosphere and great home court advantage. Loyola University New Orleans won this one tonight, not just our women's basketball team. Xavier is a tremendous ball club and I'm so glad that they will be up at the national tournament as well. This win will give us a great amount of momentum going into the tournament," said Loyola head coach Dobee Plaisance.

For the Wolfpack (25-8), Trenell Smith led all scorers with 23 points. It is the second straight game Trenell scored 20 or more points in a contest. She tallied 26 in Loyola's GCAC semifinal victory over Mobile.

Trenese Smith continued her double figure scoring streak as she added 16 points to her single season record point total. It is the 23rd straight game that Trenese has scored ten or more points in a game.

Dani Holland and Christine Mainguy each had 13 points to round out the Wolfpack leaders. Mainguy grabbed nine boards on the evening. Holland secured eight boards on the night and blocked two Gold Nugget shots. Holland and Trenell Smith also had six assists each. For the Gold Nuggets (23-11), Erica Turnbull had a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Dominee Matthews also scored a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Loyola had already earned the GCAC's regular season automatic berth to the NAIA National Championship Tournament, so Xavier grabbed the conference tournament's automatic berth. The NAIA National Championship tournament will take place from March 14-20 in Jackson, Tennessee. The Wolfpack will find out who they play in the first round when seedings are announced on March 7th.

The win extended Loyola's program best win streak to 17 games. They also have won 18 straight contests in The Den- a run that dates back over a year to January of 2006. Loyola was a perfect 14-0 at home this season.

Helpful links: http://wolfpack.loyno.edu, http://wolfpack.loyno.edu/giving, http://gcaconf.com, http://naia.org, http://loyolamaroon.com

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