Western Illinois scored the final four points in regulation to force overtime, then outscored Valparaiso 12-1 in the extra session as the Westerwinds defeated the Crusaders 73-62 on Saturday afternoon in Macomb, Ill.
Valpo held a four point lead, 61-57, with 1:27 to play before a pair of Jessica Cook free throws and a fast-break lay-in by Erica Zielinski tied the game with 46 seconds to play. Both teams had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but Jeanette Gray (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.) recorded a block on the final Westerwind attempt.
In the overtime, Western Illinois scored the first eight points, six by Tiffany Cornelius, to put the game away. Valpo made just one of six free throws, and went 0-for-9 from the floor in the extra period.
The game was a battle throughout regulation. There were eight ties in the opening half and six more in the second stanza. The Crusaders trailed 32-30 at intermission, despite shooting just 30% from the floor in the first half. The Crusaders made all 12 free throws to keep the game close.
In the second half, Western took a six point lead, 55-49, before Valpo went on a 11-0 run. Suzie Hammel (Lafayette, Ind./Lebanon H.S.) scored five during the outburst, which set the stage for the final minutes.
For the game, Hammel led the Brown and Gold with 16 points, while Meredith Baugher (Berea, Ohio/Berea H.S.) added 12. Katie Boone (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.) scored ten, while Gray had a team-high eight rebounds.
Cornelius led all scorers with 21 points and grabbed nine boards, while Cook added 14 points. Zane Teilane added 13 points and six blocks.
For the game, Western (15-6, 7-1 Mid-Con) shot 54.9% (28-of-51) from the floor, while Valpo knocked down just 29.0% (18-of-62) of its shots.
Valpo (12-9, 5-3) will return to action next Saturday when the Crusaders travel to Cedar City, Utah to battle Southern Utah. Tip-off is set for 6:15 p.m. CST.