Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.) scored 23 points in the return to her hometown, but it was not enough as Valparaiso dropped a 64-57 decision to Virginia Tech in the first round of the Subway Classic in Minneapolis, Minn.
The Crusaders hung tough with the Hokies throughout, and were tied at 27 at intermission, but Erin Gibson scored 14 of her 25 in the second half as Virginia Tech pulled away.
Valpo fell behind by nine, 20-11 with 9:02 remaining in the first half. Stangler then scored six of Valpo's next nine points, and after Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) and Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) scored the Brown and Gold had its first lead of the game, 24-23, with 2:34 remaining in the first half. Virginia Tech retook the lead, but Rietema scored on a lay-in with two seconds remaining in the half to tie the game at intermission.
Virginia Tech then raced out quickly in the second half, building a 34-29 lead, and the lead remained between five and seven points until Katie Boone (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.) drained a three-pointer to bring Valpo within two, 46-44, with 10:10 to play. Virginia Tech went on a 12-4 run over the next five minutes to push the lead to ten, and the Crusaders were still down 62-52 with 1:45 to play before a final run.
Meredith Baugher (Berea, Ohio/Berea H.S.) made a pair of free throws, and Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) split a pair. Bechtold added a lay-in with 9.9 seconds remaining to cut the lead to five, but the Hokies made two free throws in the final minute for the final margin.
Stangler finished the game 9-of-18 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the line to lead the Crusaders. Boone added ten points and dished out six assists while committing just one turnover. Braun and Rietema each added eight points, with Rietema grabbing a team-high five rebounds.
Gibson finished the game 10-of-15 from the floor for Virginia Tech (1-0), and led all rebounders with nine boards. Kerri Gardin added 13 points, while Carrie Mason scored 12 to go along with eight assists.
Valpo (0-1) shot 41.5% from the floor for the game, while the Hokies hit on 57.9% of their attempts. Virginia Tech also outrebounded Valpo 35-21 for the contest. The Crusaders committed just ten turnovers though, while forcing 18 Hokie miscues.
Valparaiso will face Arkansas State in the consolation game on Saturday evening. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.