Playing a minor role last season, it was hard to predict how Clare Nelson would perform as a starter.

By all accounts, the 6-foot senior forward has been major player in Loyola’s success this season. In the 45-41 road win over Evanston on Jan. 5, the Chicago Tribune’s No. 9-ranked team, Nelson had 11 points, eight rebounds, one block and one steal. On Friday, she had 12 points in a 48-40 loss to No. 1-ranked Montini on the road.

“She’s done such a phenomenal job for us that we call her the glue,” Loyola head coach Jeremy Schoenecker said. “She’s been a staple inside for us, both rebounding and finishing around the basket. She understands her strengths and weaknesses. She’s had some huge nights for us and has been such a great senior leader.”

Nelson is averaging 8.4 points and is one of the team’s most efficient scorers. Against Montini, Schoenecker said Nelson recognized she could beat the bigger Broncos down the court. He said she ended up scoring half of her points in transition.

“She’s someone who finds a way to get it done,” Schoenecker said.

Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola