Western Illinois held Valparaiso to just 34.1% shooting and forced 18 Crusader turnovers as the Westerwinds defeated the Crusaders 53-42 on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The first half was back and forth the entire way, with four ties and eight lead changes taking place. Neither team was able to extend a lead past three points until Western's Amanda Walker hit a triple in the final minute to give the Westerwinds a 26-21 advantage at the break.
Valpo shot just 32% in the first stanza but stayed in the game with seven offensive rebounds and held a 15-14 edge at intermission on the boards.
The Westerwinds scored the first five points of the second half to increase their lead to ten just two minutes in. A three-pointer by Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) helped Valpo close to within 35-30 with 11:21 to play. Valpo cut the lead to three, 43-40, at the 4:44 mark as Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) scored down low.
The Crusaders could get no closer though as the Westerwinds scored the next six points keyed by two Valpo turnovers and two missed shots.
The Westerwinds made free throws down the stretch to secure the victory, finishing the game a perfect 9-of-9 from the line.
In the second half it was Western Illinois (18-4, 10-2 Mid-Con) getting to the glass, grabbing six offensive boards and outboarding the Crusaders 16-7. The Westerwinds finished shooting 48.8% from the floor as well for the game.
Braun led the Crusaders with 13 points and eight rebounds while Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) added seven points.
Zane Teilane led all scorers with 17 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Samantha Greer added ten points.
Valparaiso (14-9, 8-4) will have a week off before returning to the hardwood next Saturday afternoon for Senior Day at the ARC. Tip-off against Chicago State is set for 2:05 p.m. with all the action being broadcast live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics beginning at 1:30 p.m.