Valparaiso shot just 29% in the first half while allowing Cleveland State to connect on nearly 59% of its shots on the way to a 24-point halftime advantage as the Vikings defeated the Crusaders 86-63 on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
After Valpo scored the first points of the game, the Vikings scored 13 straight over the next four minutes on the way to the Horizon League victory.
Kailey Klein scored 33 points on 12-of-16 shooting for Cleveland State (13-7, 7-2 Horizon), which finished the game shooting 57.1% from the floor, including 47.1% (8-of-17) from three-point range.
“We had no one to guard Klein,” Valpo head coach Keith Freeman said. “She demonstrated that she is one of the best players in the league.”
Trailing by 11 less than five minutes into the game, the Crusaders went on an 8-0 run, cutting the deficit to three following back-to-back three-pointers by Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph’s H.S.) and Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.).
That would be as close as the Crusaders would get the rest of the way, as the visitors lead was back to double digits by the 7:13 mark. An 18-4 run by Cleveland State late in the half gave the Vikings a 48-24 lead at intermission.
The Crusaders were just 4-of-20 from beyond the arc in the opening stanza.
“We shot way too many threes,” Freeman added. “Twenty of our first 31 shots were threes.”
Valpo would never get closer in the second half, despite shooting 52% from the floor, and making 7-of-13 three-point attempts in the final 20 minutes.
Hochstetler led Valpo with 12 points while Litka added 11 for the Brown and Gold. Kelly Peller (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton H.S.) had a career-high 10 points for the Crusaders as well.
“Give credit to Cleveland State,” Freeman said. “They played a great game and took advantage of our mistakes defensively.”
Valparaiso (9-11, 4-5) will look to bounce back on Thursday evening as the Crusaders host Loyola (Chicago) at the ARC in a 7:05 p.m. tip-off. The game will be shown live on Lakeshore Public Television as well as the Horizon League Network.