Five players scored in double-figures as Valparaiso opened Mid-Continent Conference play with a 79-56 victory over Centenary on Monday evening in Shreveport, La.
Valpo opened scoring the game's first ten points. A pair of technical free throws by Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.), before the opening tip for a line-up violation and a three-pointer by Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) sent the Crusaders off and running. The lead was extended to 18-5 as Bechtold hit two more triples before back-to-back three pointers by Laura Kizyte and Laura Way brought the Ladies to within seven.
An 11-2 run over three minutes pushed the lead to 20, 33-13, with 8:41 left to play in the first half as Valpo made 11 of its first 17 shots from the floor. Centenary answered with an 11-2 run of its own as Van'esha Brabson scored seven straight Lady points. Behind ten first half points from Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.), the Crusaders were able to push the lead to 45-28 at halftime.
Valpo shot 56.7% from the floor in the first half and held a 20-8 advantage on the boards, including grabbing seven offensive rebounds.
The Crusaders expanded its lead to 25 midway through the second half, 63-38, after Valpo scored seven straight points. The first eight minutes of the stanza saw Valpo maintain a lead between 16 and 20 under the run. The largest lead was 27, 70-43, at the 5:12 mark, as Valpo spread its minutes out as all ten players that dressed saw at least ten minutes of action.
Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) led the Crusaders with 13 points, while Bechtold added 12. Braun also grabbed eight rebounds and registered three blocks. Stangler, Rietema, and Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.) all added ten points, while Meredith Baugher (Berea, Ohio/Berea H.S.) added nine points and grabbed a game-high nine boards.
Kizyte led Centenary (1-10, 0-1 Mid-Con) with 13 points, while Holli Wilkins added ten.
Valpo shot 53.8% from the floor for the game, while the Crusaders held Centenary to 38.9% shooting from the floor. Valpo held a 44-18 advantage on the boards, but committed a season-high 23 turnovers.
Valparaiso (7-5, 1-0) will conclude its six-game road swing on Wednesday evening as the Crusaders travel to Rochester, Mich. The Crusaders will tip against Oakland at 6 p.m. CST.