Valparaiso picked up its first victory of the season on Monday evening, as the Crusaders forced 33 Saint Francis (Ind.) turnovers on the way to a 78-52 victory over the Cougars at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The Crusaders opened up a 25-point lead at intermission and coasted home with the victory as Valpo spread out its scored with six players tallying seven or more points.
Valpo's guards, which struggled from outside to start the season, caught fire early, draining six three-pointers in a six and a half minute span midway through the first half to break the game open. After Suzie Hammel (Lafayette, Ind./Lebanon H.S.) made her fourth of the stanza, Valpo had a 33-13 lead with 7:09 to play in the half.
The Brown and Gold took a 46-21 lead into the locker room, and increased it to as many as 32, 75-43, at the 4:30 mark of the second half.
Hammel led the way for the Crusaders with 17 points off of the bench, while Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.) added 14 on 6-of-10 shooting. Stangler also grabbed six rebounds. Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) and Kathryn Knoester (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian H.S.) added nine points each, with Gutowski dishing out four assists. Meredith Baugher (Berea, Ohio/Berea H.S.) added eight points, while Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) chipped in seven points and grabbed seven boards.
Jenny Steele led the way for St. Francis (5-4), scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds, while Amy Meyer contributed ten points.
Both teams shot 42% from the floor, but the Crusaders took 31 more shots than the Cougars. Valpo forced the 33 turnovers and turned them into 35 points, while committing just 13 of their own. Valpo outrebounded St. Francis 36-33, holding a 17-7 advantage on the offensive glass.
Valparaiso (1-3) will return to action on Sunday afternoon when the Crusaders travel to Mount Pleasant, Mich. for a 12 p.m. CST game against Central Michigan.