Valparaiso shot just 28.6% from the floor, fell behind by 21 early, and could not rally on Sunday afternoon as the Crusaders dropped a 64-53 decision to Xavier in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Sarah Ott (Chippewa Falls, Wis./Chippewa Falls H.S.) led Valpo with her first career double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing a career-high 10 boards.
Xavier started quickly, scoring 17 of the game’s first 20 points as the Crusaders opened shooting just 1-of-10 from the floor. The lead grew to 29-8 at the 6:15 mark of the first half before Valpo cut into the deficit. Sarah Ott’s three-pointer just before halftime brought the Brown and Gold to within 34-17 at the break.
Valpo shot just 17.9% (5-of-28) in the opening 20 minutes compared with 46.4% (13-of-28) for the Musketeers. Ta’Shia Phillips had 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting for Xavier in the first half.
After Xavier scored the first four points of the second half, the Crusaders made a run. Whitney Farris (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) and Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace H.S.) scored back-to-back baskets to bring Valpo to within 12, 39-27, at the 16:21 mark.
The Crusaders were not able to make another big run, though, as the deficit stayed between 12 and 17 most of the rest of the way.
Kulaga led Valpo with 12 points while Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joesph’s H.S.) added 10 more.
Phillips led the Musketeers with 25 points and 12 boards, connecting on 11-of-25 shots from the field. Jerri Taylor added 16 more points for Xavier (2-1).
“I thought we took some steps forward in terms of our defensive effort and rebounding,” head coach Keith Freeman said. “In the second half we moved the ball well and we just need to continue to develop some consistency.”
Valparaiso (0-4) will head south next weekend to participate in the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament. The Crusaders will face Eastern Kentucky in the first round on Friday afternoon beginning at 4 p.m. CST in Fort Myers, Fla. with all the action carried live on www.sportsjuice.com.