Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) scored a career-high 27 points, but Chicago State made a pair of free throws with 15.8 seconds left to defeat Valparaiso 58-56 on Thursday night in Chicago, Ill.
Braun connected on 13-of-20 attempts from the floor and also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, six on the offensive end. The 13 field goals tie for the sixth most in school history. The sophomore also blocked four shots.
Trailing 6-5 six minutes into the action, Valpo went on a 10-1 run over the next five and a half minutes. Braun scored twice, and had eight of Valpo's first 12 points in the game, while Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.) drained a three to cap the run and put the Crusaders in front 15-7 with 8:40 remaining in the first half. The Brown and Gold's defense held Chicago State without a field goal for two five minute stretches early on.
The Cougars ended the half strong, scoring 11 points in the final 3:27. Back-to-back jumpers by Ayesha Neasley put Chicago State in front late in the half and the Cougars took a 26-24 advantage into the locker room.
Braun scored 14 first half points for Valpo while also grabbing six boards in the stanza. Both teams shot about 37% from the floor, by the Crusaders were hampered by nine first half turnovers.
Chicago State pushed the lead to five early in the second half. Six straight points, four by Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) and a lay-in by Braun put Valpo back in front 41-40 with 10:15 remaining. The Cougars answered, and back-to-back buckets by Neasley and Tina Hill gave Chicago State a 50-47 lead with 5:17 to play.
Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) drained a three from the left corner to tie the game at 55 with 1:45 left. Braun scored inside at the 1:09 mark to put Valpo in front by two, but Hill answered to tie with 46.0 left. After a Crusader miss, Faith Buchanan made two free throw with 15.8 seconds left to put the Cougars in front. Valpo got two looks inside in the final seconds, but were unable to come up with the tying basket.
Rietema scored 11 of her 12 points in the second half for the Crusaders, as Valpo shot 452% in the stanza and 41.4% for the game. The free throw line cost the Brown and Gold though, as Valpo shot just 40% (6-of-15).
Hill led Chicago State (11-12, 6-6 Mid-Con) with 14 points, while Buchanan and Neasley each added 12. Chandra Timberlake grabbed a game-high 12 boards for the Cougars, as the hosts out rebounded Valpo 46-37, including a 18-13 advantage on the offensive end.
With the loss, Valpo falls into a third place tie with Oral Roberts in the Mid-Continent Conference standings. The win for Chicago State was just the third all-time for the Cougars against the Crusaders in 34 meetings.
Valparaiso (13-9, 7-4) will return home on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders entertain first place Western Illinois (15-6, 10-1). Tip-off at the Athletics-Recreation Center is set for 2:05 p.m.