Valparaiso used 55.2% shooting in the first half to build a 32-point halftime advantage to lift the Crusaders to a 66-49 win over Centenary on Monday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The game seemed to be a tale of two halves, as Valpo jumped out to a quick 18-5 lead less than five minutes into the game, keyed by a pair of three-pointers from both Suzie Hammel (Lafayette, Ind./Lebanon H.S.) and Kathryn Knoester (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.). Another 13-0 run seemed to deliver the knock out blow to the Ladies, as Valpo increased the lead to 29, 41-12, at the 4:45 mark.
Hammel scored 18 of her game high 20 points in the opening half, including four three-pointers that moved her to second place on the Mid-Continent Conference all-time three-point chart with 217 makes. Hammel also moved into tenth place on Valpo's career scoring mark, needing just seven more points to reach 1,000.
Valpo held Centenary to just 26.1% from the floor and forced 14 turnovers in the opening stanza, while committing just four.
The second half turned into a role reversal for the two teams. The Ladies went on a 10-0 run early in the period to close within 22, 50-28, at the 14:23 mark. Centenary eventually cut the deficit under 20, but would get no closer than the final 17-point margin.
The Ladies held Valpo to just 14.7% (5-of-34) shooting from the floor in the second half, while torching the nets for 53.6% themselves. Centenary also force eight Valpo turnovers in the stanza, leading to 14 points during the comeback effort.
Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.) led all rebounders with nine boards, six on the offensive end, to go along with her 15 points. Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) added eight points and six boards for the Brown and Gold.
Julie Danieles led Centenary (3-14, 1-5 Mid-Con) with 14 points, while Holli Wilkins and Alexis Pettway each added ten more. Pettway finished with a team-high six rebounds.
With the win, head coach Keith Freeman also tied Ed DiGregorio for most Mid-Con wins in conference history, winning 98 league victories all-time.
Valpo (11-8, 6-2) has now won four straight games and remains in second place in the Mid-Con standings, one and a half games behind UMKC. The Crusaders will return to action on Saturday afternoon to close out their current homestand with a 2:05 p.m. contest against Oakland.