Valparaiso showed marked improvement between the first exhibition game last Saturday and tonight's contest with Saint Joseph's (Ind.) as the Crusaders posted an 84-52 win over the Pumas at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The Crusaders shot 54.4% from the floor and forced 27 turnovers that led to 38 points in their final exhibition game of the preseason.
Four players found the double-figure scoring column, led by Krystal Taylor's (Minneapolis, Minn./North H.S.) 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.) added 13 points while Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) chipped in 11 more. Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) added ten points while Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) dished out eight assists to go along with her nine points.
Valpo led just 17-13 midway through the first half before going on a 17-4 spurt to open up a 17-point lead. The lead swelled to 25 before Ashley Hughes hit a three-pointer at the buzzer of the first half to make it 52-30 Crusaders at intermission. A 14-2 run in the second half put the game out of reach for the Brown and Gold.
Valpo committed just nine turnovers for the game and shot 6-of-11 from three-point range as well. Saint Joseph's outrebounded Valpo 40-30.
Rachel Theodore led the Pumas with 12 points while Hughes added ten.
Valparaiso will open up the 2005-2006 regular season on Friday evening at the ARC as the Crusaders host the Panthers of Northern Iowa. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m., with all of the action being carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM).