Valparaiso used hot shooting at the start of both halves to win its 11th straight home game on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders defeated Southern Utah 77-58 at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The Crusaders opened the game scoring on seven of their first nine shots from the field on the way to a 14-6 lead just five-and-a-half minutes into the contest. Southern Utah closed within one scoring the next seven points and Valpo had just a three point lead, 23-20, with 5:09 to play in the first stanza.
A 9-0 run started a 13-2 spurt to close the half as Valpo took a 36-22 advantage into the locker room.
Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) had a big first half, making 7-of-10 on the way to 14 points while grabbing four rebounds in the first 20 minutes. As a team, Valpo committed just three turnovers offensively while the defense forced ten and held the Thunderbirds to just 33.3% shooting.
Valpo couldn't miss in the first 14 minutes of the second half, making 12 of its first 13 shots from the floor, including five three-pointers. The lead grew to 29, 71-42, with 6:49 to play in the game. A late 9-0 Southern Utah run helped cut the lead under 20 but the Thunderbirds would get no closer.
Braun, Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.), and Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.) all tied for game-high honors with 17 points each. Myers and Rietema finished 6-of-8 from the floor while Braun was 8-of-11. Myers also grabbed a team-high six rebounds.
Cassie Hahl led Southern Utah (7-11, 0-7 Mid-Con) with 16 points and five rebounds off of the bench.
Valpo (11-6, 5-1) finished the game shooting 55.6% from the floor, including 47.1% (8-of-17) from outside the arc. The Crusaders committed 12 turnovers while forcing 16, which led to 26 Valpo points.
Valparaiso will return to action on Monday evening as the Crusaders head to the Windy City for a match up with Chicago State (7-10, 2-4). Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. with the broadcast beginning on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics at 6:30 p.m.