Miami Downs Valpo in Season Opener
Saturday, November 23, 2002
Miami (Ohio) scored 50 points inside the paint on its way to a 77-54 victory over Valparaiso in the opening round of the Chevrolet Spartan Classic held in East Lansing, Mich.

The RedHawks shot 54.5% in the second half compared with Valpo's 28.6% in the stanza to break open a game in which Miami led 37-30 at halftime.

Both teams opened slowly with Valpo holding an 18-14 lead with 5:50 to play in the opening half after a Suzie Hammel (Lafayette, Ind./Lebanon H.S.) three-pointer. Miami went on a 21-7 run over 4:33 to take a 35-25 advantage with 1:17 remaining in the opening half.

The Crusaders closed to within five, 41-36, but were unable to get any closer. A 12-1 run by the RedHawks, keyed by five points from Heather Cusik and five more by Melanie Kozlowski pushed the lead to 16 with 12:31 to play.

Miami extended the advantage to as many as 27, 77-50, with 3:29 to play before the Brown and Gold held the RedHawks scoreless over the final 3:29 to reach the final margin.

Hammel led the Crusaders with 14 points, while freshman Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) added ten. Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.) grabbed a team-high eight rebounds for Valpo.

Kim Butler and Kim Lancaster led five RedHawks in double-figures with 15 points and nine rebounds each.

Miami held a 50-22 advantage scoring in the paint and a 44-34 advantage on the glass.

Valpo shot just 33.3% (19-for-57) from the floor for the game, while committing 17 turnovers, while Miami shot 50% (34-for-68), turning the ball over just 12 times.

The Crusaders will face Fresno State on Sunday afternoon in the tournament's consolation game. The Bulldogs fell to Michigan State, the tournament's host, 82-68, in the opening game. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. CST.