Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) scored a career high 24 points and added a career best 14 rebounds and for the first time in five years Valparaiso registered a road victory at Oakland, defeating the Golden Grizzlies 61-56 on Saturday afternoon in Rochester, Mich.
Braun, a freshman, was a perfect 10-for-10 from the floor, marking the best single-game shooting performance in school history as the Crusaders opened Mid-Continent Conference play with the win in a rematch of the last two conference tournament championship games.
Valpo started the game quickly, scoring the game's first six points, and burst out to a 15-4 lead less than seven minutes into the game. Oakland fought back, cutting into the lead and closed within three, 22-19, after Jayme Wilson drained a three with 4:07 remaining in the half. Braun scored ten of Valpo's final 14 points of the half and Valpo pushed the lead back to seven, 34-27, at intermission.
After the Crusader hit a pair of free throws to open the second half, Oakland scored six unanswered points to cut the Valpo lead to three and held the Brown and Gold without a field goal for the first five and a half minutes of the half. Oakland eventually tied the game at 46 with 8:49 to play on a Petra Manakova shot.
Kathryn Knoester (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) answered with a three and Braun scored on consecutive trips down the floor as Valpo immediately retook the lead again, taking a seven-point advantage. After a pair of Golden Grizzly free throws, Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) converted on a conventional three-point play and Braun made two free throws to cap a 12-2 Valpo run and put the Brown and Gold in front 58-48 with 5:11 to play.
Valpo went the final 6:15 without a field goal, but the defense held off a late Oakland run which cut the lead to four with 55 seconds remaining. The Crusaders then made three free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Braun broke Robyn Lippert's 1990 record for field goal shooting with the perfect shooting night, also making all four free throws. Knoester added 11 points while Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.) added ten points. Katie Boone (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.) chipped in seven points, all free throws, while dishing out six assists.
Manakova and Wilson led Oakland (7-5, 0-1 Mid-Con) with 13 points each, while Manakova also grabbed eight rebounds. Amanda Batcha led the Golden Grizzlies on the boards with 12 rebounds.
For the game Valpo shot 45.7% from the floor, while holding Oakland to just 32.2% shooting for the night. The Golden Grizzlies held a 38-34 advantage on the glass, including a 19-8 stronghold on the offensive end.
Valpo (6-6, 1-0) will return to action on Tuesday evening, when the Crusaders return to the Athletics-Recreation Center, hosting IUPUI. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.