Valparaiso rallied from a pair of double-digit deficits on Saturday afternoon, but in the end, Oral Roberts held on for a 67-66 victory over the Crusaders in Tulsa, Okla.
The Crusaders had the ball last, rebounding a missed Golden Eagle free throw with 5.5 seconds remaining and pushed the ball up court, but were unable to get a game-winning shot attempt off before time expired.
Valpo fell behind ten early, 21-11, with 11:03 remaining in the opening half following a 14-3 Oral Roberts run. The lead swelled to 13, 32-19, following back-to-back Leah Cannon baskets, the first a three-pointer.
Suzie Hammel (Lafayette, Ind./Lebanon H.S.) started a Valpo comeback just prior to halftime, draining a triple with 3:12 remaining. Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.), Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.), Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.) followed with threes of their own, and Hammel capped the half off with a trey with just two seconds remaining to close a 15-4 run and send the Crusaders into the intermission trailing just 36-34.
A pair of Stangler free throws with 16:28 remaining gave Valpo its first lead since the opening minutes, 40-39. The hosts responded with a 10-2 run to retake the lead, and eventually pushed it back to ten, 57-47, at the 8:05 mark.
Valpo answered with a 12-0 run of its own, to retake the lead. Kathryn Knoester (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) tied the game at 57 throwing in an off-balanced three-pointer as the shot clock went off. Her lay-up at the 4:59 mark closed the run, giving the Crusaders the lead again.
Oral Roberts (8-6, 2-1 Mid-Con) went back in front before Knoester tied the game at 63 with a pair of free throws at the 1:37 mark. Elisha Turek answered with a 12-foot jumper to give the Golden Eagles the lead on the ensuing possession, and Alycia Seay added a lay-in with 29.6 seconds left.
After Valpo miss, the Crusaders fouled, but the Golden Eagles missed the front end of the one-and-one. Gutowski drained a three from the right corner with 7.9 seconds to play and Valpo again fouled with 5.5 seconds left. Another missed free throw allowed the Crusaders one last chance, but a shot was never attempted.
Gutowski and Rietema led the Crusaders with 15 points each, with Gutowski also dishing out seven assists. Hammel added 13 points, while Stangler scored 11 points and grabbed eight boards.
Turek led Oral Roberts with 22 points and 14 rebounds, while Claudia Louis poured in 12 more points. Leah Cannon dished out 14 assists for the Golden Eagles.
Oral Roberts won the battle of the boards outrebounding Valpo 38-27, including a 14-9 advantage on the offensive glass. The Golden Eagles did commit 22 turnovers though, two more than the Crusaders.
Valparaiso (7-7, 2-1) will conclude its current road trip on Monday evening, travelling to Kansas City, Mo. for a 7 p.m. contest with UMKC.