ALBANY, N.Y. -- Loyola took the first step toward a third straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women's tournament championship last night with a 78-63 victory over Canisius before 2,437 at Knickerbocker Arena.
The third-seeded Greyhounds beat the Golden Griffins for the third consecutive time this season and will face second-seeded Manhattan in today's semifinals. Loyola, which lost all five starters from last year's team, has yet to beat the Jaspers this season.
The Greyhounds (15-12), who held Canisius (8-19) to 27.7 percent shooting while hitting 51 percent of their shots, are riding their first four-game winning streak of the season.
Junior center Lynn Albert scored a game-high 23 points to pace Loyola, which led by as many as 24 points in the second half. Guard Jennifer Bongard added 11 points, and forward Mary Ann Kirsch chipped in 10. Heather Fiore led Canisius with 19.
"We've got six new players out of 13, so half of them didn't experience the tournament last year. We've put past success behind us," Loyola coach Pay Coyle said. "We want to be peaking at tournament time. Hopefully, that's what we're doing now."
Loyola trailed 10-9 eight minutes into the game, before Albert -- fresh off being named to the All-MAAC first team -- hit a 12-foot jumper to ignite a 35-19 run for the Greyhounds. Albert went on to score 15 first-half points as Loyola took a 44-29 halftime lead.
The Greyhounds hurt the Golden Griffins equally inside with Albert and outside with the guard combination of Jennifer Bongard and Corey Hewitt, who combined for 14 points in the first half.