Valparaiso scored the first 12 points of the second half and turned a halftime deficit into a 56-46 victory over Chicago State on Monday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center in the regular season finale for both teams.
The first half went back-and-forth, with neither team possessing a lead larger than five. Valpo built a 23-18 lead after a Mayella Kuikhoven (Almelo, Netherlands/St. Canisius H.S.) lay-in with 4:47 left in the half, but would not make another field goal the rest of the half as the Cougars finished the first half on a 10-2 run, taking a 28-25 advantage into the locker room.
Two three-pointers by Suzie Hammel (Lafayette, Ind./Lebanon H.S.) during the 12-0 outburst helped spur Valpo on. After the Crusaders built an 11 point lead, Kafayat Davies scored a pair of baskets to help Chicago State close within four after seven straight Cougar points.
Valpo went on a late 6-0 run to push the lead back to 12, 54-42, and the Crusaders never looked back.
Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) led Valpo with her third double-double of the season, 18 points and 13 rebounds. She scored ten points and grabbed nine boards in the second half. Kathryn Knoester (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) added 14 points and four assists, while Hammel tallied nine.
Kafayat Davies led Chicago State (8-19, 3-13 Mid-Con) with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Ayesha Neasley added 11 points. Renada Blackburn scored eight points and grabbed 11 boards for the visitors.
For the game, Valpo shot 41.9% while Chicago State connected on 34.0% from the field. The Cougars won the battle of the boards 39-31, but committed 18 turnovers, twice the number of the Crusaders.
Valpo's (17-11, 11-5) win, coupled with UMKC's 54-53 loss at home to Southern Utah gives the Crusaders a share of second place in the Mid-Continent Conference standings. The Brown and Gold will await a coin flip to determine the second and third seeds in this weekend's conference tournament held in Kansas City, Mo.