Valparaiso's defense held UMKC to 0-of-17 shooting from three-point range and the Crusaders made a 19-point halftime lead stand up on their way to a 66-48 victory over the Kangaroos on Senior Day at the Athletics-Recreation Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Crusaders raced in front quickly, 13-4, just seven minutes into the contest. The lead grew to 22-8 at the seven minute mark and Valpo never looked back. Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace H.S.) capped off the near perfect first half with a 40-footer that hit nothing but net at the buzzer to give the Crusaders a 34-15 halftime advantage.
Valpo limited UMKC to just 26.9% shooting from the floor over the first 20 minutes, including 0-of-10 from beyond the arc.
Following Krystal Taylor's (Minneapolis, Minn./North H.S.) lay-in with 17:05 to play, Valpo's lead had grown to 21, its largest of the day. UMKC chipped away midway through the half, closing to within 13, 50-37, with 7:17 to play, but that would be as close as the Kangaroos would get the rest of the way.
Valpo made 29-of-32 (90.6%) from the free throw line on the day, including 18-of-19 in the second half. UMKC, on the other hand, struggled from the stripe, making just 11-of-19 (57.1%).
Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) and Kulaga led the Crusaders with 12 points while Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) added 10 points. Rietema has now moved into fifth place on Valpo's career scoring list with 1,231 career points.
Braun added a game high nine rebounds while Rietema grabbed eight boards for the Brown and Gold.
Alysa Klein led UMKC (9-19, 5-8 Mid-Con) with 12 points while Stephanie Brown added 11 for the Kangaroos.
Valparaiso (18-10, 10-3) still has a chance to share the Mid-Continent Conference regular season title heading into Monday's regular season finale. The Crusaders need a win and Oakland to fall to Centenary for the Brown and Gold to earn a piece of the title.
Valpo hosts Southern Utah in the regular season finale on Monday night at the ARC in a 7:05 p.m. contest. The game will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) as well as videocast at www.valpo.edu/athletics.