Valparaiso rallied from a 16-point first half deficit to tie the game with 4:34 to play but could not take the lead and eventually fell to Oral Roberts 69-63 on Monday afternoon in the Mid-Continent Conference semifinals in Tulsa, Okla.
Valpo scored the game's first five points, including a three-pointer by Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.), but then went cold from the field. Oral Roberts went on a 25-4 run over the next 10 minutes building a 25-9 at the 5:17 mark of the first half. Valpo made just one of 10 attempts from the floor during the span.
The Crusaders clawed back late in the half, closing with a 15-4 spurt. Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) hit a pair of buckets while Myers and Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace H.S.) each hit triples.
Oral Roberts shot 43.5% from the floor in the opening half compared with Valpo's 27.3% clip. The Crusaders made just 8-of 13 first half free throws as well.
Valpo cut the deficit to three on the opening possession of the second half on a Sarah Ott (Chippewa Falls, Wis./Chippewa Falls H.S.) putback. The deficit was four when Katie Langford drained a three-pointer at the 15:29 mark to push Oral Roberts' lead back to 37-30.
The Golden Eagles lead grew to 10, 50-40, with 10:11 to play as Janae Voelker hit a jumper with her foot on the line. Myers then drained a three and Rietema had a steal and a score to cut the Valpo deficit in half.
Krystal Taylor's (Minneapolis, Minn./North H.S.) lay-in cut the lead to three and Rietema hit a 21-foot triple from the top of the key with 4:35 to play to tie the game at 56.
Oral Roberts answered with a jumper by Elisha Turek and a free throw to go back in front by three heading. The Golden Eagles made six straight free throws as Valpo went more than four minutes with out a field goal before Rietema hit a triple to make it 67-60 with 29.4 seconds left but by then it would be too late.
Rietema tied her career high with 25 points, 21 of which came in the second half. The senior was 10-of-19 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from three-point range. She also grabbed six rebounds. Myers added nine points on three threes.
Rachel Watman led Oral Roberts (21-10) with a career high 19 points while Jenny Hardin had 16 and Mariana Camargo added 13. Turek had 11 points and a game high 12 boards.
Valpo shot 48.4% in the second half to finish the game at 39.6% but made just 13-of-20 free throws. The Crusaders also committed just nine turnovers, including just three in the second half.
The Golden Eagles finished the game shooting 46% from the floor, including 43.8% (7-of-16) from long range.
Valparaiso (20-11) will now have to wait until the WNIT selections are released late Monday evening to see if the Crusaders season will continue.