Valparaiso saw its regular season come to a close on Monday night in Kansas City, Mo. with a 67-52 defeat at the hands of UMKC. The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak the Crusaders had over the Kangaroos.
The Crusaders jumped out to an early lead, 9-4, and held an 11-8 lead at the 14:07 mark of the first half before a 17-4 UMKC run over 6:51 put the Kangaroos up 25-15, a lead they would never relinquish.
Valpo closed to within three, 31-28, after a pair of Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) with 1:35 to play in the half, but saw UMKC score the last four points of the half to take a 35-28 lead at intermission.
The lead got back up to ten before the Crusaders began to chip away. Five points by Jeanette Gray (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.) and a lay-in by Meredith Baugher (Berea, Ohio/Berea H.S.) cut the deficit to three, 46-43, with 9:47 to play. Valpo then had three possessions to cut into the lead further, but missed two lay-ups sandwiched around a turnover. Katie Houlehan then hit a three-pointer for the Kangaroos to push the lead back to six.
Another late 11-1 run by UMKC then sealed the game.
Gray led the Crusaders with 11 points, while Gutowski and Katie Boone (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.) each added nine points. Baugher grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
Houlehan led all scorers with 20 points for UMKC, while Kristin Kenton added 14 points, 12 in the second half, and Casey Ellis added 14 points, all in the first half. Randi Meissner grabbed a game-high nine boards.
UMKC shot a sizzling 50% (22-of-44) from the floor, while adding 18-of-22 (81.8%) from the free throw line. Valpo shot just 37.3% (19-of-51) from the floor and 68.4% (13-of-19) from the stripe.
The Crusaders controlled the paint, outscoring UMKC 34-14, and held a 16-6 advantage on second chance points, but committed 14 first half turnovers and 19 total for the game.
With the loss, Valpo (15-12, 8-6 Mid-Con) will be the fourth seed in the Conoco Mid-Continent Conference Tournament that begins on Saturday in Kansas City's Kemper Arena. The Crusaders will face fifth-seeded Oral Roberts in the quarterfinals, beginning at 2:15 p.m.
UMKC (14-13, 8-6) will be the third seed and face Oakland.