Valparaiso snapped its two-game losing skid on Monday evening using solid defense and rebounding to defeat Mid-Continent Conference co-leader IUPUI 55-48 at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
IUPUI's loss, coupled with Western Illinois' loss at Oakland, brings the Crusaders within one game of first place in the league standings.
The Crusaders held the Mid-Con's top rebounding team to just 26 boards on the night, 14 fewer than IUPUI's season average as Valpo outrebounded the guests 36-26, including a 12-6 edge on the offensive glass. Second chance points proved key as Valpo outscored IUPUI 11-2 off the offensive boards.
The Jaguars held a 14-12 lead with 12:07 remaining in the first half before a 12-4 Valpo run put the Brown and Gold in front for good. Two three-pointers from Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.), half her first half total, ignited the spurt. IUPUI could cut the lead to three just before half before Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) hit a jumper with eight seconds remaining to give Valpo a 32-27 lead at the break.
The lead was extended to ten, 45-35, with 11:22 left in the game as Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) scored inside. The Crusaders would hit just one field goal the rest of the way, a triple from Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) with 5:39 left, that stopped an IUPUI run that saw the Jaguars cut the lead to two. Bechtold's basket pushed the lead to 50-45 and Rietema hit five of six free throws down the stretch to seal the Crusader victory.
Rietema led the Crusaders with 18 points while grabbing seven rebounds while Braun scored 13 points and had a game-high eight boards. Myers finished with 14 points, including 12 in the first half.
Bechtold logged all 40 minutes for the Brown and Gold while Rietema and Braun never sat down the entire second half, leading the defensive effort.
Jernisha Cann led IUPUI (12-7, 7-2 Mid-Con) with 17 points and seven rebounds off of the bench while Kia Hayes added 13 for the Jaguars. Brooke McAfee had seven boards and seven blocks.
Valparaiso (12-8, 6-3) will head out on the road this weekend as the Crusaders travel to Cedar City, Utah on Saturday night. Tip-off against Southern Utah is set for 8:05 p.m. CST with the game to be broadcast live on www.sportsjuice.com.