GREEN BAY, Wis. - Loyola dominated from the opening tip and didn't let up on a struggling Youngstown State women's basketball team.
Simone Law scored a game-high 29 points and Loyola used a swarming defensive effort to cruise past Youngstown State, 72-45, in the semifinals of the Horizon League Championship Friday in Green Bay, Wis.
The Ramblers (17-14) advance to the finals for the first time since the league conducted a four-team tournament in 1988-89 and will face No. 20 Green Bay in Sunday afternoon's title game.
Shar'Rae Davis led the Penguins (22-9) with 12 points, while Horizon League Player of the Year Brandi Brown was held to 11 points on 4 of 14 from the floor.
However, YSU is still hopeful for a WNIT bid.
Loyola got off to a terrific start, riding Law's hot hand to an early 8-2 lead. The Ramblers defense was disrupting Youngstown State's offensive rhythm and Loyola's offense began to click midway through the half.
Monica Albano fed Law for a lay-up to make it a 14-6 lead and the bucket kickstarted a 16-2 run over a 6:20 span that gave the Ramblers some breathing room and a 28-8 advantage with just over four minutes left in the half. Law and Taylor Johnson accounted for all 16 points in the run but it was Ayrealle Beavers who scored Loyola's last four points of the period as LU took a 32-17 lead into intermission.
Loyola held YSU to just 25 percent (7 of 28) shooting in the half and forced nine turnovers.
YSU trailed by as many as 20 in the first half and cut the deficit to 11 less than two minutes into the second half. The Penguins hit just one field goal over the next 10 minutes as Loyola pulled away.
After shooting 1 of 11 from the 3-point line in the opening 20 minutes, Youngstown State knocked down a pair from the arc early in the second half to get within 11 (36-25).
However, Albano had a pair of triples in a 15-1 Loyola run that bumped the lead to 24 (50-26) and the Ramblers cruised from there, leading by as many as 30 before closing out the 72-45 win.