For the fourth straight year Valparaiso was unable to defeat UMKC in Kansas City, Mo. as the Kangaroos posted a 69-63 victory over the Crusaders on Saturday afternoon in Swinney Recreation Center.
Early on it was Crusader turnovers that were hindering the Valpo offense. Six miscues in the first eight minutes kept the Brown and Gold from building a lead. Valpo's defense was strong though, forcing UMKC to take several forced shots until Leigh Mead hit three three-pointers to put the Kangaroos in front 20-17 at the 6:55 mark of the first half. Mayella Kuikhoven (Almelo, Netherlands/Saint Canisius H.S.) put the Crusaders in front by one, 29-28, with a conventional three-point play with just over two minutes left in the half, but UMKC ended the stanza with the final five points to take a 33-29 lead into the locker room.
Valpo finished the first half shooting 39.4% from the floor while UMKC connected on 36.7%. Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.) led the Crusaders at the break with eight points while Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) pulled down seven first half boards. Mead had nine at intermission for the Kangaroos while Stephanie Brown scored eight points down low.
The Kangaroos continued to build on the run after the break. Seven more points pushed the lead to 40-29 just 90 seconds into the half. Valpo started cold to start the second, missing its first six shots from the floor and going making just one of its first 12. Free throws accounted for the majority of the Crusader points in the first portion of the second half as UMKC built a 50-36 lead.
Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) hit a triple from the left wing at the 8:39 mark to cut the lead under ten, 55-46. For the freshman, the triple put her in double figures for the first time wearing the Brown and Gold.
After UMKC pushed the lead back to 14, Valpo again clawed back. Back-to-back baskets by Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcacae H.S.) cut it to six with 2:30 to play. The Crusaders held UMKC without a field goal for the final 6:34 but made eight free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Valpo shot just 25.0% (9-of-36) from the floor in the second half and finished at 31.9% for the game. UMKC, on the other hand, finished at 50% in the second stanza and 42.3% for the contest.
Hochstetler led Valpo with a career-high 14 points while Myers and Kulaga added ten each. For Kulaga, it also marked a career best. Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) had a season-high 13 rebounds while Rietema had a career-best 12 boards.
Brown and Jowan Ortega led UMKC (9-17, 7-8 Mid-Con) with 14 points while Sammi Knapic added 13 more. Mead finished with four treys and 12 points.
Valparaiso (15-11, 9-6) will try to salvage one win on three-game road trip as well as the 2005-2006 regular season on Monday evening as the Crusaders head to Tulsa, Okla. to battle Oral Roberts. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.