Valparaiso shot just 29.6% from the floor in the second half as the Crusaders saw their ten-game Mid-Continent Conference homecourt win streak come to an end on Saturday afternoon as the Oakland downed Valpo 59-54 at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The Crusaders led by three at halftime, 33-30, but could not get on track offensively in the second half. Holding a 38-33 advantage with 18:38 to play, nine straight Golden Grizzly points put the visitors on top for good. Petra Manakova hit a jumper with 8:16 remaining to cap off the 19-5 Oakland run as the Golden Grizzlies pushed the lead to nine, 52-43.
The lead eventually grew to ten, 57-47, after another Manakova basket with 4:43 to play, but Valpo tried to fight back. Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) and Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) scored on back-to-back baskets to close within six at the 2:50 mark. Rietema then scored again with 1:15 to play and Katie Boone (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.) made one of two free throws with 46 seconds left to cut the deficit to three. Anne Hafeli then closed out the game, driving the baseline and scoring with 22 seconds left to give Oakland the win.
Oakland got off to a quick start in the game as well, taking a 15-7 lead just 4:27 into the game. Valpo then used a 13-2 spurt to get back in the contest and take a 26-23 lead following back-to-back three-pointers by Boone and Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.). The Crusaders then maintained the three-point advantage going into the locker room.
Boone led Valpo with 14 points, while dishing out eight assists and committing just one turnover. The junior point guard also added four steals for the Brown and Gold. Rietema and Braun each added eight points, with Rietema grabbing a team-high five rebounds.
Jayme Wilson led Oakland (13-7, 6-3 Mid-Con) with 20 points, including four treys, while grabbing seven rebounds. Manakova added 16 points, with Anne Hafeli chipping in ten more. Amanda Batcha grabbed a game-high ten boards for the Golden Grizzlies.
Oakland shot 46% for the game from the floor and 8-of-9 (88.9%) from the line while Valpo finished just 35.7% from the field and 7-of-16 (43.8%) from the charity stripe. The Crusaders also forced 20 Golden Grizzly turnovers, while committing just nine of their own against Oakland's full-court press.
Valparaiso (11-9, 6-3) will return to action on Monday night as the Crusaders travel to Macomb, Ill. to battle Western Illinois. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.