Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) recorded a double-double and Valparaiso held Western Illinois to just 24.1% shooting in the first half as the Crusaders defeated the first place Westerwinds 58-45 on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,114 fans at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Valpo jumped in front from the start, building a 9-2 lead less than four minutes into the game after Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) drained a three-pointer. The Crusaders expanded the lead to ten, 14-4 midway through the half, and eventually pushed the lead up to 14, 25-11, at the 2:55 mark. The Westerwinds started just 3-of-18 from the floor. Western Illinois closed the half with the final six points to cut the Valpo lead to 25-17 at intermission.
Western would not get any closer in the second half. A three-pointer by Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) pushed the lead to 35-21 four minutes into the stanza. Myers hit a pair of threes over the next several minutes, the last one giving the Crusaders a 47-28 lead with 11:01 to play.
The Westerwinds cut the lead to 13 after back-to-back baskets by Stephanie Greer. Triples by Bechtold and Myers on two straight possessions sealed the victory for the Crusaders, as they maintained a lead of at least 12 the rest of the way.
Braun registered her third double-double of the season with 14 points and ten rebounds, while adding three blocks. Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) added 12 points and eight boards, while Myers scored 13 on 5-of-7 shooting, including three treys.
Valpo (14-9, 8-4 Mid-Con) shot 42.6% from the floor for the game, including a sizzling 61.1% in the second half. The Brown and Gold shot 53.3% (8-of-15) from beyond the arc. The Crusaders also won the rebounding battle 35-28.
Zane Teliane led Western Illinois (15-7, 10-2) with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Greer added eight points off of the bench. The Westerwinds struggled from the floor, finishing just 33.9% for the game and 9.1% (1-of-11) from three-point range.
Valpo will close out its stretch of three games in five days on Monday night as the Crusaders head to Indianapolis, Ind. for a 6 p.m. contest against IUPUI. That game will be broadcast on sportsjuice.com.