Valparaiso jumped out to a quick start thanks to long range shooting and held off several Oral Roberts runs as the Crusaders posted their 10th victory in the last 12 games with a 66-56 victory over the Golden Eagles on Monday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Four three-point field goals in the game's first eight minutes helped Valpo to a 20-6 lead, as the Crusaders made eight straight shots from the floor early on in the contest. Oral Roberts battled back, closing to within one, 27-26, with 3:07 to play before the break.
Valpo scored the next seven points, capped off by a triple from Sarah Ott (Chippewa Falls, Wis./Chippewa Falls H.S.), and took a 34-28 lead into the locker room.
Oral Roberts scored the first five points after intermission, and a Mariana Camargo lay-in two minutes into the half again cut the Brown and Gold's lead to one. Put back baskets by both Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) and Krystal Taylor (Minneapolis, Minn./North H.S.) helped jumpstart a 12-2 Crusader run, capped off by Aimee Litka's (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph's H.S.) lay-up with 12:50 to play, putting Valpo up 46-35.
The Crusaders maintained a double digit advantage most of the second half until a late 6-0 run by the Golden Eagles pulled the visitors back within six, 60-54, with just over two minutes to play.
Six free throws down the stretch by Valpo secured the victory though, and pulled the Crusaders within one-half game of first place Oakland in the Mid-Continent Conference standings.
Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) led the Crusaders with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) added 10 points off of the bench. Braun grabbed a team high nine rebounds, giving her exactly 800 for her career, the first Crusader to reach the milestone in school history. The senior center is also just the seventh player in Mid-Con history to reach the mark.
Elisha Turek led Oral Roberts (14-9, 4-5 Mid-Con) with 18 points and six rebounds while Janae Voelker added a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards. Rachel Watman also scored 12 points for the Golden Eagles.
For the game Valpo shot 40.7% from the field, including a 48.0% clip in the opening half. The Crusaders also drained nine triples and turned 13 Oral Roberts turnovers into 22 points.
Valparaiso (14-9, 7-2) will begin its final regular season road trip of the season on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders head to Rochester, Mich. for a first place battle with Oakland (11-10, 7-1). Tip-off against the Golden Grizzlies is set for 2:30 p.m. CST with all the action carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.