BILLINGS, Mont. – [BOX SORE] Di’Mond Jackson made big plays when five-seed Loyola (La.) needed them most, hitting a last-second shot to force overtime and scored the go-ahead basket in overtime to lead the Wolf Pack to an 89-86 OT win over four-seed Our Lady of the Lake (Texas). The game was by far the closest so far in the 2018 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Championships presented by Wells Fargo with 10 lead changes and 9 ties.
With 19 seconds left in regulation, OLLU led by 2 points and went to the line for two free throws which could have made it a two-possession game. Both shots clanged out and gave Loyola life.
The Wolf Pack ran a play for senior guard Di’Mond Jackson, who drove the right lane to the rim but overshot the contested layup. Her momentum carried her to the other side of the hoop, which is right where the ball ended up and she managed to get her own rebound. As soon as she gathered the ball, she took a falling, desperation shot that hit off the backboard and fell through the net with 1.5 seconds left on the clock.
Loyola never trailed in overtime, but with just over 30 seconds left the game was again tied, this time at 82-82. Once again it was Jackson driving to the rim for Loyola and this time the first shot fell to give the Wolf Pack the lead. After that, the game came down to free throws and LU made enough to keep the lead till the final buzzer.
Oddly enough, it was the losing team that really dictated the pace of play. As the nation’s leader in points per game (89.938 ppg), and one of the best teams in steals per game (12.656
The constant pressure turned the game into a frenzy that included regularly occurring loose ball scrambles and early shot clock shot attempts. That pace did cause Loyola problems, with the Wolf Pack turning the ball over 25 times leading to 28 points off turnovers for OLLU.
What countered OLLU’s advantage in turnovers was superior shooting for Loyola. LU shot 45 percent from the floor to OLLU’s 37 percent and made 42 percent of its 3-point attempts to 28 percent for the Saints.
Jackson finished with her ninth double-double of the season and almost got her second triple-double with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists but was only the third leading scorer for Loyola. Kaila Anthony led all scorers with 24 points, including 4-5 shooting from three. She was joined by Zoie Miller who had 20 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
There were plenty of impressive stats on the Our Lady of the
Loyola moves on to the second round where it will play the winner of one-seed Westmont (Calif.) and eight-seed Cumberland (Tenn.) on Friday, March 26 at 4:30 p.m.