Valparaiso moved back into second place in the Mid-Continent Conference after a convincing 58-38 victory over Southern Utah on Senior Day Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Valpo's win, coupled with Oakland's 62-60 loss to Chicago State, puts the Crusaders one-half game in front of the Golden Grizzlies.
Trailing 8-4 early, Valpo went on a 17-4 run midway through the first half. The Crusaders held the Thunderbirds scoreless for over four minutes on two separate occasions during the run while building a 21-12 lead with 4:13 to play in the first half. The Crusaders maintained a lead between five and nine the rest of the half and took a 27-19 lead into intermission.
Meredith Baugher's (Berea, Ohio/Berea H.S.) lay-in pushed the lead to 31-19 before Southern Utah made its last run. The Thunderbirds cut the lead to seven, 35-28, with 9:05 to play before a 23-8 run by Valpo closed the door. Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.) hit two three-pointers and Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) controlled the paint for the Crusaders during the run.
Braun recorded her fourth double-double of the year with 14 points and ten rebounds. She added two blocks and had a career-high four steals. Katie Boone (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.) added eight points, while tying her season-highs in rebounding with nine and assists with seven. Myers and Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) added eight points each for the Crusaders.
Cassie Warburton led Southern Utah (10-14, 6-7 Mid-Con) with ten points while Janis Beal added eight. Sarah Hutton grabbed a team-high six rebounds.
Valpo held the Thunderbirds to just 28.6% shooting for the game and forced 25 turnovers leading to 22 Crusader points. Southern Utah is the third team this season the Crusaders have held below the 40-point plateau.
Valpo (16-9, 10-4) will have a week off before returning to action next Saturday afternoon in Tulsa, Okla. as the Crusaders face Oral Roberts. Tip-off is set for 2:05 p.m.