Valparaiso moved into sole possession of first place in the Mid-Continent Conference on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders defeated Oral Roberts 72-55 at the Athletics-Recreation Center to move to 3-0 in league play.
The Crusaders hold a � game lead over second place Western Illinois in the league standings.
Valpo jumped out to a quick 8-9 lead over the first four and a half minutes as Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.) scored a pair of baskets. Oral Roberts closed within five, 22-17, with 7:16 left before the Crusaders blew the game wide open. A 19-2 run keyed by eight points from Myers and six from Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.) pushed the lead to 22 with 1:33 left in the half. Valpo took a 47-27 lead into intermission.
Oral Roberts (10-4, 1-2 Mid-Con) cut into the lead after halftime with an 11-1 run to close within 11, 50-39, with 14:53 left as Elisha Turek scored six points. Valpo answered with an 11-1 spurt of its own to go back up 21 and never looked back.
Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) scored a career-high 19 points for the Crusaders while Stangler finished with 16 on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. Myers added 12, while Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) added eight, along with seven rebounds and five assists. Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) also grabbed seven boards for the Crusaders.
Valpo shot 52.8% for the game from the field, including a blistering 63.3% in the first half to build the lead. Oral Roberts was held to just 35.1% shooting, and struggled in the second half, making just 29.0% of its shots.
Turek led the Golden Eagles with a double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Katie Langford added nine for Oral Roberts.
Valparaiso (9-5, 3-0) has now won six of its last seven games overall, and gets a week off before heading to Kansas City, Mo. next Saturday for a 2:05 p.m. contest with the UMKC Kangaroos.