Despite a double-double by Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.), Valparaiso saw its 2005 Mid-Continent Conference Tournament appearance come to an abrupt end as the second-seeded Crusaders were upset by seventh-seeded UMKC 59-49 on Saturday afternoon at the John Q. Hammons arena in Tulsa, Okla.
With the game tied at five in the early stages, Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) drained a three-pointer to start a 9-2 Crusader run. Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) scored twice inside during the span that put Valpo in front 14-7 at the 13:34 mark of the first half. UMKC tied the game at 17 after Marta Waahlen scored with 5:25 remaining. Sammi Knapic gave the Kangaroos their first lead of the afternoon at the 2:07 mark, but Braun scored inside with 23 seconds remaining in the first half to tie the game at 23 as the teams headed into the locker room.
Braun just missed a double-double in the first half, tallying 11 points and grabbing nine boards to go along with three blocked shots. Knapic led UMKC in the first half with seven points while Alysa Klein came off of the bench to grab six rebounds. Valpo shot 40% in the first half while holding the Kangaroos to 31.3% from the floor.
Senior Meredith Baugher (Berea, Ohio/Berea H.S.) scored the first six points of the second half for the Crusaders inside as Valpo built a 32-25 lead just over four minutes into the stanza. Knapic kept the Kangaroos close, scoring UMKC's first seven points of the half. Klein tied the game at 38 at the 11:22 mark and Jowan Ortega gave them the lead with 9:29 remaining 41-40.
Ortega's three with 6:31 remaining pushed the UMKC lead to 46-42 before Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) scored and added a pair of free throws on the following possession to tie the game with 5:15 left. Katie Houlehan hit a triple from the left corner at the 3:33 mark to put the Kangaroos back in front by three but Bechtold answered 23 seconds later with a trey of her own. Knapic made another three, and after a stop Ortega scored on a driving lay-up. A miss by Valpo forced a foul and Knapic made two free throws to push the UMKC lead to 56-49 with 1:06 left. Knapic added three more charity tosses to close the game.
Valpo made just one field goal the final 5:15 as the tournament's defending champion was upset, ending a run of six straight tournament wins over the previous two seasons. Braun led the Brown and Gold with her fifth double-double of the season, scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. The Mid-Con First Team selection also had four blocks and two assists. Rietema added ten points while Baugher scored eight, all in the second half for the Crusaders.
Knapic led UMKC (9-19) with 22 points while Klein added 11 points and 13 boards. Liz Obrecht added nine points and ten boards for the Kangaroos, who outrebounded Valpo 40-33 for the game. UMKC shot 39.3% for the game after connecting on 50% in the second half. Valpo shot just 33.3% in the second stanza.
Valpo finishes the year 18-10 while UMKC advances to face the Oakland-Southern Utah winner in Monday's semifinals.