A 9-2 run late in the second
half by Cleveland State proved to be the difference on Thursday evening as the
Vikings defeated Valparaiso 57-51 at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio to
snap the Crusaders’ two-game winning streak.
Ashley Timmerman (Pontiac, Ill./Pontiac
H.S.) came off of the bench to lead Valpo with 14 points, making three triples,
while Tabitha Gerardot (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury
H.S.) had her seventh double-double of the year with 13 points and 10 rebounds
for the Crusaders.
Valpo’s defense held the
Vikings scoreless for the first four minutes of the game, building an early 5-0
lead. The hosts missed their first five
shots from the floor and committed three turnovers to open the game.
“We got off to a good start
defensive,” head coach Keith Freeman
said. “We competed hard on that side of
Cleveland State battled back
as Valpo committed four turnovers over a five minute span and after a Shawnita
Garland triple with 8:55 to play before halftime, the Vikings had a 14-12 lead. Garland
had three of her five steals during the spurt.
“When we went to our bench we
turned it over a lot,” Freeman added. “Garland can really get
after you. Everything becomes more
rushed because of her.”
The Crusaders fell behind by
four before an 11-0 run put the Brown and Gold on top 25-18 with under two
minutes to play in the first half.
Back-to-back three-point plays by Timmerman and Gerardot down low
followed by a Timmerman triple spearheaded the run.
The Vikings battled back,
tying the game at 25 before halftime, but another Timmerman three in the final
seconds gave Valpo a 28-25 lead at the break.
Offensive woes to start the second
half hurt the Crusaders. Valpo started
just 1-of-8 from the floor while the Vikings made four of their first five to
retake the lead, 35-33. The Crusaders
continued to struggle from the field, but made 5-of-6 free throws to offset a
2-for-14 start from the floor, and had the game tied at 37 with 11:31 to play.
A 9-2 run in just over three
minutes then proved to be the difference as the Vikings took a 48-41 lead. Four of Cleveland State’s
points came off of Crusader turnovers.
The lead stayed between five
and eight over the final six minutes, and was cut to five a final time after Betsy Adams (Monticello, Ind./Twin Lakes H.S.) made her
only triple of the game with 36 seconds to play. Following a missed free throw by the Vikings,
Timmerman had another good luck from three in the final 20 seconds, but was
just long and Cleveland State held on to win.
“If that shot falls, I feel
like we had a chance,” said Freeman.
Valpo finished the game
shooting 31.5% from the floor, but just 25% in the second half, including
1-of-9 from three-point range. The
Crusaders finished with 19 turnovers in the game.
Adams scored nine points and Gina Lange (Wyoming, Minn./Forest Lake H.S.) added eight
points and nine boards for the Crusaders.
“Our depth hurts us when we
don’t have it,” Freeman added. “We need
some consistency and need all of our players on the same page.”
Shalonda Winton led Cleveland State (13-10, 6-6 Horizon) with 18
points and 11 rebounds while Destinee Blue also had a double-double with 13
points and 11 boards. The Vikings shot
34.9% from the floor but committed just 13 miscues. The hosts also had 12 steals in the game.
“Their defense put a lot of
pressure on the ball,” Freeman concluded.
“I’m pleased that from a defensive standpoint we did a better job. They were at 34% shooting and in the 50s
scoring. We just need to execute better
Valparaiso (6-18, 3-9) remains in Ohio
on Saturday as the Crusaders head down the road to Youngstown, Ohio
to battle the Penguins of Youngstown State.
Tip-off at the Beegley
Center is set for 3:35
p.m. CST, a change from the initial scheduled time.
Game Notes: Gerardot
now has double-doubles in back-to-back games … Adams went 6-for-6 from the free
throw line and has now made 29 straight free throws … Timmerman added another
free throw and is now 22-for-22 on the season … the Crusaders as a team went
12-for-14 from the free throw line and are shooting 79.2% now in Horizon League
play … Valpo leads the all-time series 12-8 but Cleveland State has won the
last four meetings between the two schools.