Valparaiso cut a 19-point deficit down to three with less than three minutes to play, but could not climb all the way back on Sunday afternoon as the Crusaders dropped their exhibition opener to Indianapolis 67-56 at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Betsy Adams (Monticello, Ind./Twin Lakes H.S.) scored a game-high 27 points, making 5-of-12 from three-point range, including 18 points in the second half.
The Greyhounds took a 38-24 lead at halftime keyed by a 10-0 run late in the half that gave the visitors a 16-point advantage with 2:39 to play. Indianapolis’ lead grew to 19, 45-26, two minutes into the second half before the Crusaders began their comeback.
A 13-2 run, including three triples by Adams, brought the Brown and Gold to within six, 51-45, with 10:20 to play. Valpo continued to claw back, and Adams’ fifth three of the game made it 59-56 with 2:37 to play. The Greyhounds scored the game’s final eight points though, all at the free throw line, to earn the exhibition victory.
Kelly Watts (Gary, Ind./East Chicago Central H.S.) and Whitney Farris (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) added eight points each for the Crusaders while Ashley Varner (South Bend, Ind./Washington H.S.) grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
“I thought Watts, Varner, and (Laura) Richards (Connersville, Ind./Connersville H.S.) played with the intensity needed to compete,” head coach Keith Freeman said. “Richards gave us lots of energy.”
Samanth Meissel paced Indianapolis, a Division II “Sweet Sixteen” team a year ago, with 18 points while Jessica Canary added 14 points.
Valpo shot 36.7% (22-of-60) from the floor, including 25% (5-of-20) from three-point range while committing 23 turnovers. The Greyhounds shot 42% (21-of-50) from the floor and made 20-of-24 free throws to offset 22 turnovers. Indianapolis won the battle of the boards 37-33.
“The second half we moved the ball better,” Freeman added. “We need to establish an inside scoring presence and take care of the basketball better.”
Valparaiso will close out exhibition play on Monday, November 9, when the Crusaders host Indiana Wesleyan. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. at the ARC with the game shown live on the Horizon League Network.