Valparaiso University was held without a field goal for the final 7:19 of the game and shot just 30.8% (20-of-65) as the Crusaders fell to Southern Utah 68-62 on Saturday evening in Cedar City, Utah.
Valpo started the game scoring the first six points before a 21-7 Thunderbird run put the hosts in front by eight with 9:42 to play in the first half. The Crusaders scored seven straight of their own to cut into the lead, and eventually retook the lead 28-25 when Devin Reed (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North H.S.) came off of the bench to drain a three-pointer.
The Brown and Gold eventually extended the lead to five, 34-29, before Southern Utah rallied and tied the contest at 35 at intermission.
The second half see-sawed back-and-forth with the Crusaders eventually taking a 55-50 lead with 9:11 left. After the Thunderbirds cut their deficit to one, Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.) scored at the 7:19 mark to put Valpo up by three. Stangler's basket would be the last Valpo would get from the floor in the game.
Nina Brunt tied the game at 59 and Casey Cooke put Southern Utah on top with her jumper with 3:33 to play. Jeanette Gray (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.) tied the game with a pair of free throws, but back-to-back baskets by Cooke and Shauntel Garrett put the T-birds up 66-62.
Valpo had three attempts to cut into the lead on the next possession, but miss all three triple attempts and Southern Utah pulled away with the victory.
Gray recorded a double-double, 16 points and 13 rebounds, to lead Valpo. Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) added nine points, while Meredith Baugher (Berea, Ohio/Berea H.S.) and Reed chipped in eight. Reed's point total represented a career high.
Cooke led Southern Utah (9-13, 2-8 Mid-Con) with 16 points, while Garrett and Cyrita Warner added 14 each.
Valpo (12-10, 5-4) outrebounded the Thunderbirds 45-39, including a 23-10 advantage on the offensive glass, but scored just 17 second chance points and allowed Southern Utah to shoot 45.1% (23-of-51) from the field. The Crusaders also struggled from the free throw line, connecting on just 62.1% (18-of-29) of their attempts.
The Crusaders will return to the hardcourt on Monday evening when they travel to Chicago State for a 7 p.m. contest.