Suzie Hammel (Lafayette, Ind./Lebanon H.S.) scored a game-high 20 points and the Valparaiso defense limited Loyola (Ill.) to just 14 first half points as the Crusaders defeated the Ramblers 54-47 on Sunday afternoon in Chicago, Ill.
The Crusaders struggled out of the gate for the second straight game, as Valpo scored just one basket over the first six minutes. Valpo's defense kept the Crusaders in the game though as Loyola held just a 14-12 lead with 7:21 to play in the half.
Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) drained a three-pointer to give Valpo its first lead of the game and the Brown and Gold shut out the Ramblers over the final 7:21 to build a 25-14 lead at intermission. Loyola went without a field goal for the final 10:33 of the stanza.
Hammel made three three's in the first half to pick up the rest of the Crusaders as Valpo shot just 25.7% (9-for-35) from the floor in the stanza. Loyola was a cold 24% (6-25) from the field.
Valpo came out the second half and built a 37-20 lead after back-to-back treys by Hammel. The lead grew to as many as 19, 48-29, with 8:51 to play after a Jeanette Gray (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.) lay-in. Loyola scored eight straight points, capped off by a Ciara Henderson three to cut the lead to 11. The Crusaders held off the Ramblers down the stretch to register the victory.
Hammel went 6-for-11 from three-point range as the Crusaders improved their record to 4-5. Gray added nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds (seven offensive), while Dawn Vander Meer (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew H.S.) added a career high six points while tying her career best with five boards.
Mandy Mennella led Loyola (1-6) with nine points while Maggie Toczylowski grabbed ten rebounds.
Both teams turned the ball often as Valpo coughed the ball up 21 times while Loyola turned it over 22. The Crusaders outrebounded the Ramblers 44-41, holding a 16-13 advantage on the offensive glass.
The Crusaders will take six days off during final exams before returning to action on Saturday afternoon to host Indiana Wesleyan. Tip-off is slated for 2:05 p.m.