Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph’s) knocked down six 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 30 points Saturday afternoon, leading Valparaiso to an 85-66 exhibition victory over the Showtime Skins from Australia.
“I thought we did some good things in the first half today,” said Crusader head coach Keith Freeman. “I thought we came out in the beginning of the second half and built on our lead. We got a bit sloppy at points, turning it over on three straight possessions, and our second group didn’t do as well as I would have liked sustaining the lead. When we put our first team back in, it took some time for them to get back in the rhythm of the game.”
The early stages of the game were tight, featuring four ties and five lead changes. Showtime’s Ashley Marble hit a 3-pointer to give the Skins a 19-18 lead with 9:32 to play in the opening half, but the Crusaders would take the lead back immediately and pull away, going on a 24-6 run over the next 8:21. Litka hit two triples during the run, scoring eight points, while Sarah Ott (Chippewa Falls, Wis./Chippewa Falls) added six points during the spurt. The Skins scored two baskets to end the half, but Valpo maintained a 12-point lead at 42-30 into halftime.
The Crusaders scored the first five points coming out of the half, but Showtime responded with four points to make it a 47-34 ballgame with 18:13 to play. Valpo came back with a 14-4 run over the next five minutes, sparked by nine points from Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland), to enjoy its largest lead of the game at 61-38 with 13:16 to play.
Showtime would not go away, however, immediately retaliating with a 15-3 run of its own to cut Valpo’s lead to 11 points with 7:39 left in the game. The Skins would cut the Crusader edge to 11 on three separate occasions during the late stages of the contest, but could never get the deficit under double digits as Valpo closed out the victory.
Litka scored her 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-9 from behind the arc, and hit all four of her free throws. She also added six rebounds and three steals. Ott was the only other Crusader to reach double figures in scoring, dropping in 13 points. Whitney Farris (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo) added eight points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Brown and Gold.
“Aimee is one of our toughest players,” said Freeman. “She spent two years on the bench behind (former Crusader) Betsy Rietema, and now is getting her chance to step up. I think a lot of her shots today were a function of us moving the ball well as a team, and she’s a good shooter.”
Valparaiso hit 43.5% (27-of-62) of its shots on the game, including 37.5% (12-of-32) from 3-point range, while the Showtime Skins shot 42.3% (22-of-52) from the floor and 36.8% (7-of-19) from behind the arc. The Crusaders also out-rebounded the Skins 38-30. Showtime was led by Marble, who posted 26 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
“I think our team is better than we were two weeks ago,” said Freeman. “But we’re not where we need to be yet to play against some of the teams that are on our schedule. We’re still going to have to up our game.”
Valparaiso opens regular season play on Friday, November 9 as the Crusaders travel to Bowling Green to take on the Falcons. Opening tip is set for 6 p.m. CST, and all the action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM.