Valparaiso won its fifth game in its last six outings on Sunday afternoon, defeating Loyola (Ill.) 61-45 at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Suzie Hammel (Lafayette, Ind./Lebanon H.S.) led Valpo with 18 points, Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) added 17, and Katie Boone (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.) notched a double-double as the Crusaders posted their third straight win.
With Valpo up 29-25 at halftime, and nursing a three-point lead, 31-28, with 17:59 left, Gutowski and Hammel hit back-to-back three-pointers to push the lead to nine. The Crusaders extended the lead to 13, 47-34, with 8:40 remaining in the contest before the Ramblers made their final run. Back-to-back triples by Ciara Henderson and Mandy Mennella spurred an 8-0 run to cut the lead to five with 6:50 remaining.
Following a Crusaders timeout, Boone made a pair of free throws and Hammel hit another one of her five treys on the afternoon to push the lead back to ten and Loyola would never cut the Brown and Gold's lead to single digits the rest of the way. Valpo held Loyola to just 24.1% shooting in the second half.
The first half saw Mennella make four three-pointers on her way to 14 points in the opening stanza. The Ramblers made 7-of-9 from beyond the arc in the first half and led by as many as five, 14-9, after Paige Harris hit a triple at the 10:51 mark. Valpo then went on a 14-3 spurt keyed by a pair of Gutowski threes to take the lead for good.
Boone finished with ten points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists while Gutowski and Hammel each grabbed five boards. Valpo forced 21 Loyola turnovers and held the Ramblers to just 30.2% shooting from the floor. The Crusaders shot 37.7% and outrebounded Loyola 40-37.
With the win, Valparaiso improves to 5-4 on the season, while Loyola falls to 3-4. The Crusaders will take a week off for final exams before returning to action next Sunday afternoon in Chicago. Valpo will face DePaul in a 2 p.m. contest.