The Valparaiso Crusaders forced 34 Southern Utah turnovers, 21 on steals, on their way to an 89-53 victory over the Thunderbirds on Monday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Eleven of the 12 Crusaders scored in the contest and ten of the 12 registered steals as Valpo won for its sixth time in its last eight games and held their opponents under 60 for the ninth consecutive game.
The Crusaders trailed just once in the contest, 4-2, and used a 9-2 run midway through the first half to build a 24-15 lead after a Kathryn Knoester (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) three-pointer.
The Thunderbirds responded and cut the lead to four, 28-24 with 4:17 to play, after a Casey Cooke lay-in.
Valpo scored the next seven points and eventually took an eight-point lead, 36-28, into intermission.
The Brown and Gold opened the second half scoring the first seven points. Southern Utah (7-9, 0-4 Mid-Con) cut the lead to ten, 43-33, at the 15:24 mark but would not get any closer the rest of the way.
A 15-5 run capped off by another Knoester lay-in pushed the lead to 26, 70-44, with 5:40 to play before the Crusader reserves got into the action.
Valpo, playing with five freshmen on the floor the final six minutes, did not allow a field goal over the final 4:06 and outscored the Thunderbirds 14-3 over that span.
Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.) led four Crusaders in double-figures with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Jeanette Gray (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.) added 12 points and seven rebounds, while Knoester and Meredith Baugher (Berea, Ohio/Berea H.S.) added 11 points each. Baugher had a game-high eight boards while Knoester tied her career best with five steals.
Dawn Vander Meer (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew H.S.) and Heather Furr (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield H.S.) each came off the bench with career highs of seven and four points respectively.
Cooke led Southern Utah with 19 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Lacey Yates added 12 points.
Valpo outrebounded the T-birds 41-38 for the game, holding a 22-10 advantage on the offensive glass and the 34 Southern Utah turnovers led to 38 Crusader points.
Valpo (9-7, 2-1) will return to action on Saturday afternoon when the Crusaders travel to Rochester, Mich. Tip-off against Oakland is slated for 2:30 p.m. CST.