Despite a career high 24 points by Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.), Valparaiso ended up on the short end of the score Tuesday evening, as Miami (Ohio) defeated the Crusaders 83-71 in Oxford, Ohio.
Stangler scored 18 of her 24 in the second half, while grabbing eight of her ten rebounds in the stanza as well, but Valpo could not overcome three RedHawks that scored in double figures.
Early on the lead changed hands eight times, and the score was tied at 22 with 7:16 to play before Miami took the lead for good. Colleen Day scored eight of the RedHawks next ten points and Kim Lancaster scored the last four points of the half as Miami built a 39-32 lead at intermission.
The lead expanded to nine at the beginning of the second half, but Valpo fought back, and after Katie Boone (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.) hit a jumper with 16:17 remaining, the Crusaders capped off an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to just 43-40.
Three times Miami pushed the lead back to either eight or nine, and each time the Crusaders responded, cutting it back to four twice and six the third time. An 8-0 Miami spurt midway through the half pushed their advantage to 14 and Valpo was never able get back within single digits.
Kathryn Knoester (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) came off of the bench to score 14 points for the Crusaders, while Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) added four three-pointers and finished with 13 points. Boone added six points and four assists for the Brown and Gold.
Cindy Merrill and Kim Lancaster scored 21 points each for the RedHawks, while Day added 20 points and grabbed 14 boards as Miami dominated the paint. The RedHawks outscored Valpo 50-30 in the lane and outrebounded the Crusaders 41-29. Nicki Motto dished out 11 assists for the RedHawks.
Miami (6-4) shot 51.8% from the floor for the game, while Valpo connected on 46.9% of its shots. The RedHawks also went 23-of-29 (79.3%) from the free throw line, while the Crusaders made just three of eight attempts.
Valparaiso (5-6) will return to action on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders travel to Rochester, Mich. to open Mid-Continent Conference action. Tip-off against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies is set for 2:30 p.m. CST.