Valparaiso made a season-high 13 three-pointers, including 11 in the first half, on the way to an 85-60 victory over Loyola (Chicago) on Thursday evening at the Gentile Center in Chicago, Ill.
With the win, the Crusaders vaulted themselves into fourth place in the Horizon League standings, moving within a half of a game of third place Cleveland State.
“I thought we moved the ball extremely well and made open shot,” head coach Keith Freeman said. “We were trying to get better on defense this week and the first half was good.”
Valpo started its shooting exhibition early, making four of its first six shots from the floor, including a pair of three-pointers by Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph’s H.S.). The Crusaders then went on a 14-0 run over six-and-a-half minutes, including two threes by Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) to go on top 22-8 with 11:03 to play before intermission.
The Crusaders had seven assists on their first eight baskets and were 8-of-11 from the floor overall. Rashida Ray (Fort Wayne, Ind./Harding H.S.) got into the outside shooting act, hitting a triple and drawing the foul at the 7:58 mark to increase the lead to 31-14 as the Crusaders started 6-of-8 from long range.
Litka continued the long-range barrage, hitting three more before halftime to finish 5-of-7 from three-point range on her way to 15 first half points as the Crusaders took a 52-23 lead into the locker room. Litka also grabbed six first half rebounds.
Valpo as a team was 11-of-15 from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes as Hochstetler and Agnieskza Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace H.S.) each added 10 points on a pair of threes.
The Crusaders continued scoring to start the second half, making seven of its first 13 shots from the floor. Loyola looked to keep pace, hitting three three-pointers in the first eight minutes, but Valpo maintained the lead around 30.
Loyola never was able to cut the lead under 25 as the Crusaders were able to balance out the minutes. Ten of the 11 players that dressed for Valpo scored, and the Crusaders finished the game shooting 53.4% from the floor, including 59.1% (13-of-22) from three-point range.
Litka finished with a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds for the Crusaders while Kulaga added 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor. She also had six assists. Hochstetler had 12 for Valpo while Ray scored a season-high 11 points.
“Rashida did a nice job tonight,” added Freeman. “She continues to improve on defense.”
Brittany Boeke led Loyola (6-15, 1-10 Horizon) with 18 points and five assists while Elyse VanBogaert had a game-high nine rebounds.
Valparaiso (12-10, 7-5) will return to Chicago on Saturday evening for a 7 p.m. contest at UIC. The game can be seen live on the Horizon League Network as well as heard live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso).
Game Notes: The 13 three-pointers tied for seventh most in school history as a team for a single game … Litka moved into 18th place in school history with 870 career points, passing Kathryn Knoester (2000-2004) … Kulaga moved into 12th all-time with 240 career assists, passing Jeanette Gray (1999-2003) … the 52 first half points were the most for the Crusaders in a half this year … Valpo held a 19-0 advantage in fast break points … the Crusaders committed a 10 turnovers … Valpo leads the all-time series 14-1, including a 7-1 edge in Chicago.