Valparaiso cut a 15-point second half deficit to three with 3:24 to play, and had the basketball, but was unable to complete the comeback attempt on Saturday afternoon, falling 75-64 to Wright State at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Trailing 60-45 with 8:00 to play in the game, the Crusaders went on a 14-2 run in an effort to rally. Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace H.S.) scored six points Ashley Varner (South Bend, Ind./Washington H.S.) added four more for the first 10 points of the run, and two free throws by Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph’s H.S.) cut the lead to 62-59 at the 3:24 mark.
Valpo forced a Wright State miss, but a Crusader turnover on the offensive end led to a Raider basket. The Raiders forced another turnover and pushed the lead to seven with 1:15 to play, and Valpo could not get the deficit below four the rest of the way. Wright State made 11-of-12 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Wright State started the game on fire from the floor, making 10 of its first 14 shots to build a 26-12 lead 10 minutes into the game. Valpo cut its deficit to 10, 31-21, following a lay-in by Katie Emig (Farmington Hills, Mich./Birmingham Marian H.S.), but the Raiders responded and took a 38-23 lead into the locker room.
The visitors shot 70% (14-of-20) from the floor in the first half to overcome 12 turnovers.
“They had their way with us in the first half and hurt us with their penetration,” Valpo head coach Keith Freeman said. “We put ourselves in bad positions. Part of that is their quickness.”
Valpo cut into the lead right out of the break, pulling within 11, 40-29, and had a chance to get the deficit to single digits, but was unable to do so. Wright State then maintained a 13-15 point lead throughout the half until the Crusaders’ late run.
Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) led Valpo with 17 points, making 10-of-11 from the free throw line. Kulaga added 12, connecting on 6-of-8 from the charity stripe, and Litka added 10 for the Brown and Gold.
Valpo shot 82.9% (29-of-35) from the free throw line, including making 25-of-27 in the second half in the comeback attempt.
“I thought once we got into the bonus we wanted to drive it and get to the line, Freeman added. “It helped us get back into the game making free throws.”
Whitney Lewis led five Raiders in double figures with 16 points, including 6-of-7 from the floor, while Sheylani Peddy added 15 for Wright State (12-13, 9-5 Horizon League). The Raiders finished the game shooting 58.1% from the floor.
Valparaiso (12-14, 7-8) will head out on the road for the final three games of the regular season, beginning Thursday night in Cleveland, Ohio. The Crusaders and Cleveland State will tip at 6 p.m. CST with and all the action can be seen on the Horizon League Network. The game will also be carried live on www.sportsjuice.com.