The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay showed why the Phoenix is ranked #22/16 in the nation on Saturday evening, defeating Valparaiso 69-50 at the Athletics-Recreation Center as the two schools wrapped up the first half of Horizon League action.
“We played harder today than we did on Thursday,” head coach Keith Freeman said. “We have to become a team where that is a consistent thing.”
Rashida Ray (Fort Wayne, Ind./Harding H.S.) scored a career-high 16 points for Valpo, going 4-of-5 from three-point range, but was the lone Crusader to tally double figures in the loss.
“Rashida has guts,” Freeman said. “She has come a long way over her four years. She is going to give you everything she’s got, and she did that tonight.”
After being held scoreless for more than four minutes to start the game, a three by Ray and a basket inside by Gina Lange (Wyoming, Minn./Forest Lake H.S.) allowed Valpo to tie the game at five. The Phoenix answered with five points of its own, but the Crusaders hung around, staying within six, 18-12, after a triple by Betsy Adams (Monticello, Ind./Twin Lakes H.S.) with just over eight minutes to play.
After Green Bay increased the lead to 12, 29-17, Valpo battled back again before halftime. A three-pointer by Stefanie LangLaura Richards (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.) and a jumper by (Connersville, Ind./Connersville H.S.) brought Valpo back within seven with three minutes to play before break.
The Phoenix scored the last seven points of the first half though, and took a 36-22 lead into the locker room.
After Adams scored inside for the first basket of the second half, Green Bay scored 12 unanswered points to cap a 19-2 run spanning both halves and break the game open, giving the Phoenix a 48-24 advantage. The Crusaders would cut it down to 19 twice, including the final margin, while the visitors never pushed the lead higher than 24 the rest of the way.
Celeste Hoewisch led Green Bay (20-1, 9-0 Horizon) with 17 points while Kayla Tetschlag and Julie Wojta added 14 points each. Lydia Bauer made four triples off of the bench to finish with 12 points, making four Phoenix in double figures. Tetschlag also had a team-high nine rebounds.
“Green Bay is a team that doesn’t have one player that takes a possession off,” Freeman added. “They are the standard in our league.”
Adams scored eight points and Lang had seven for Valparaiso in addition to Ray’s team-high 16 points. Tabitha Gerardot (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury H.S.) led the Crusaders on the glass with six rebounds as Valpo was outboarded 33-31 for the night.
Green Bay shot 42.9% for the game and committed just 12 turnovers while the Crusaders connected at 34.0% and had 18 miscues, but just six in the second half.
Valparaiso (4-21, 1-8) continues its current homestand on Thursday evening as the Crusaders entertain Wright State. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. at the ARC.
Game Notes: Ray’s previous career high was 12 points as a freshman at Cincinnati on Nov. 16, 2007 when she also made four three-pointers … Ashley Timmerman (Pontiac, Ill/.Pontiac H.S.) made four free throws on Saturday and is now a perfect 19-for-19 from the charity stripe in her Crusader career … Adams made two triples and is now has 131 for her career, just one shy of Kathryn Knoester (2000-2004) … Green Bay leads the all-timer series 21-4 and have won six straight meetings between the two schools.