Cincinnati used a 45-20 rebound edge to its advantage on Friday afternoon as the Bearcats posted a 96-69 victory over Valparaiso in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Bearcats had 18 offensive boards, and used them to produce 19 second chance points in the victory.
Cincinnati started the game making eight of its first 12 shots from the floor, including three three-pointers in racing out to a 21-10 lead eight minutes into the contest. An 18-6 run over the span by the Bearcats was aided by Valpo starting the contest hitting just four its first 13 shots.
The hosts extended the lead to 15, 27-12, before the Crusaders tried to claw back. A three-pointer by Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace H.S.) and two free throws helped the Crusaders cut the deficit to 10, 35-25, at the 2:57 mark.
Cincinnati extended the lead back to 18 before Valpo made one last first half push in the final 1:09 of the stanza. Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph’s H.S.) hit a triple and Whitney Farris (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) scored inside. Kulaga then added a steal and a lay-in, completing the three-point play with the free throw as the Crusaders closed to within 45-35 at intermission.
Launa Hochstetler’s (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) 17-foot jumper to start the second half capped the 10-0 run and brought the Crusaders to within eight.
Cincinnati scored the next eight points, though, pushing its lead back to 16. A 17-5 run midway through the second half broke the game wide open, and Valpo could never recover.
Hochstetler and Rashida Ray (Fort Wayne, Ind./Harding H.S.) led the Crusaders with 12 points each while Kulaga and Farris added 11 each.
“We were poorly focused to begin the game,” head coach Keith Freeman said. “Evidence of this is the fact that they got 13 offensive rebounds from two posts and the two guards we were keying on in the perimeter got open looks because we couldn’t guard the ball.”
Tenishia Benson led Cincinnati (1-1) with 25 points, including a perfect 11-of-11 night from the free throw line, while Kahla Roudebush added 22 points and 10 boards. Jill Stephens was 7-of-9 from the floor and finished with 18 points, while adding nine boards, eight on the offensive end.
Valparaiso (0-3) will head across town on Sunday afternoon as the Crusaders are set to face the Musketeers of Xavier. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. CST with all the action carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.