Suzie Hammel (Lafayette, Ind./Lebanon H.S.) scored 18 of her 19 points in the first half and Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.) added 18 points on the night as Valparaiso defeated IPFW 86-60 on Wednesday evening in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Hammel, celebrating her 22nd birthday, drained all five of her three-point attempts in the first half to help the Crusaders build a 13-point lead at intermission. The lead changed hands 11 times in the first half before Valpo went on a 15-0 run over the final four minutes of the stanza to turn a two-point deficit into a 47-34 advantage at intermission.
The Crusaders came out of the locker room and scored the first four points of the second half, and held IPFW without a field goal until the 15:54 mark when Kelly Boyd scored on a lay-in. The basket marked the Mastodons first field goal in a 10:09 span over both halves.
IPFW cut the lead to 12, 52-40, at the 15:04 mark before Valpo went on another 18-4 run to put the game out of reach. Stangler scored six points during the run on her way to an 8-of-13 shooting night. The lead reached as many as 30 at two different points in the second half.
Kathryn Knoester (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian H.S.) added 12 points off of the bench for the Brown and Gold, while Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) added a career high 11 points along with seven boards. Braun also blocked three first half shots. Meredith Baugher (Berea, Ohio/Berea H.S.) added eight points and eight rebounds.
Geneva Murdock led IPFW (1-7) with 20 points and seven rebounds, while Courtney Nicley and Amy Gearlds added 12 points each.
Valpo shot 49.3% from the floor for the game compared with the Mastodons' 39.2%. The Crusaders also forced 15 IPFW turnovers, while committing just 11 themselves. Valpo only coughed the ball up twice in the first half.
With the win, Valpo moved to the .500 mark for the first time this season with a 4-4 record. The Crusaders will return to the hardwood on Sunday afternoon when the Brown and Gold entertains Loyola (Ill.). Tip-off at the Athletics-Recreation Center is set for 2:05 p.m.