Valparaiso held off a second
half rally by Wright State on Sunday afternoon, as the Crusaders saw the
Raiders erase their 10-point lead, but held on to post a 64-58 victory at the
Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) led the Crusaders with 22
points and six assists, while making 6-of-7 from the free throw line including
two in the final 14 seconds to put the game out of reach.
“Launa had an exceptional
game in all areas for us today,” head coach Keith Freeman said. “She
controlled the ball on defense, handled the ball well, made good decisions, and
was able to finish some plays at the rim.”
Valpo had a 10-point
advantage late in the first half, and a seven-point lead at the break before Wright State
made several runs. The Raiders scored
the first five points of the second half to cap an 8-0 run spanning
intermission and close within two, 35-33 on a three-point play by Maria
Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace
H.S.) jump-started an 8-0 run of the Crusaders with a jumper and Hochstetler
followed with a triple as the Crusaders pushed the lead back to 10, 43-33, with
14:43 to play in the game.
Hochstetler’s three was
Valpo’s last field goal for the next 10:17 until she hit another triple. In the meantime, Wright State
went on a 13-3 run to tie the game on a Bennett three with 7:46 to play before
Hochstetler stepped up on the next possession and regained the lead for the
Crusaders for good.
The Brown and Gold was able
to push the lead back to six with just over five minutes to play, only to see Wright State
fight back against. Tatianna Hall’s
jumper with four minutes left brought the Raiders within one, 53-52, but that
would be as close as the visitors would get the rest of the way.
Valpo scored the next seven
points, starting with a driving three-point play by Hochstetler, and made
seven-of-seven free throws over the final three minutes to secure the victory.
“We attacked pretty well
today and had the right people shooting free throws,” added Freeman.
The first half was close
until a late 12-2 run by the Crusaders over five minutes put Valpo on top
35-25. Shey Peddy hit a three as time
expired for the Raiders to make it 35-28 at the break, setting up the final 20
“I liked how we played the
first half,” said Freeman. “We made an
improvement on closing out possessions.
They got zero offensive boards in the first half.”
Four Crusaders finished the
game in double figures, led by Hochstetler.
Aimee Litka (South
Joseph’s H.S.) added 14 points while Kulaga and Whitney Farris (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo
H.S.) added 10 points each. Farris also
grabbed seven boards for the Crusaders.
Peddy led Wright State
(10-12, 6-5 Horizon League) with 15 points while Bennett added 14 off of the
bench. Molly Fox had 12 points and six
rebounds while LaShawna Thomas scored 10 points while fouling out in just 20
minutes of play.
Valpo finished the game
making 20-of-24 (83.3%) shots from the free throw line to make up for just six
second half field goals. The Crusaders
shot 39.6% for the game compared with Wright State’s
42.3%. Valpo forced 23 turnovers to help
offset 40% shooting from three-point range by the Raiders as well.
“We sustained a greater level
throughout the game today,” concluded Freeman.
“There were moments when we really moved the ball well.”
Valparaiso (11-10, 6-5) will head to Chicago for a pair of games next week,
beginning on Thursday night at Loyola.
Tip-off at the Gentile Center is set for 7 p.m., with all the action shown
live on the Horizon League Network and also carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso).
Game Notes: This
was Valpo’s first victory against Wright State since 1994, snapping a
three-game skid against the Raiders … the Crusaders lead the overall series 9-4
though, including 6-1 in Valparaiso … Hochstetler scored in double figures for
the sixth time in the last eight games … Kulaga is now shooting 90.2%
(55-of-61) from the free throw line this season … Kulaga passed Mo Drabicki
(1994-1998) for 20th place all-time at Valpo in scoring with 848
career points … Litka made two more three-pointers to move past Jamie Gutowski
(2002-2006) into sole possession of fifth place all-time at Valpo with 153
career treys … Valpo and Wright State are now tied for fifth place in the
Horizon League standings, just a half-game behind UIC for fourth place and one
full game behind Cleveland State for third.