Valparaiso’s defense held IPFW to just 22.8% shooting from the floor for the evening and four players scored in double figures on the offensive end as the Crusaders defeated IPFW 64-43 on Tuesday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” head coach Keith Freeman said after the game. “Their grittiness, character, and resilience after the Lehigh game really came through. I like how hard these kids work and they’ve learned a lot. I’m happy these kids felt success today.”
The Crusaders jumped out to an 8-1 lead, holding the Mastodons without a field goal for more than four minutes to open the contest, and never trailed on the evening in picking up their second victory of the homestand.
Ashley Varner (South Bend, Ind./Washington H.S.) and Tabitha Gerardot (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury H.S.) both recorded double-doubles. Varner tallied a game-high 18 points and pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds for her second career double-double while Gerardot added 15 points and 10 boards for her third double-double in the last four games. Laura Richards (Connersville, Ind./Connersville H.S.) added a career-high 12 points while Shaquira Scott (Wilmette, Ill./Loyola Academy) contributed 11 for the Brown and Gold.
IPFW made just 5-of-27 shots from the floor (18.5%) in the opening half as the Crusaders held the visitors without a field goal for nearly seven minutes midway through the stanza.
Valpo jumped out quickly offensively, making four three-pointers in the game’s first 7:30 to take a 15-6 advantage.
The Mastodons would not cut their deficit under six the rest of the half and Valpo took a 25-15 lead into the locker room.
IPFW (4-5) cut the Valpo lead to six, 30-24, with 14:44 to play in the game, but a 14-3 run over six minutes extended Valpo’s advantage to 18 with just over seven minutes to play, 47-29. Valpo scored 32 points in the paint over the course of the evening, including 12 of the 14 during the run.
“The tempo of the game was such that we wanted to stay in a rhythm attacking the pressure,” Freeman said. “We stayed out of foul trouble and that was a key. I think their pressure helped us on offense because we were able to move the ball well and had a good balance inside and outside.”
Valpo shot a season-high 48.9% from the floor, including 6-of-14 (42.9%) from three-point range. The Crusaders also outrebounded the Mastodons 38-34, though IPFW held a 17-9 advantage on the offensive glass.
Erin Murphy led IPFW with 14 points and nine rebounds.
“We were really tough defensively and did a good job carrying out the game plan,” Freeman added. “Their top three kids are averaging 47 points a game and they only got 28 tonight. We were able to help off of the other two tonight.”
Valparaiso (2-6) will take to the road for its next two games, beginning Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Crusaders will take on Pittsburgh beginning at 1 p.m. CST.
Game Notes: Valpo leads the all-time series 9-5 and is 6-1 against IPFW at home … the Crusaders have won five of the last six games between the two Hoosier State schools … Varner has now grabbed seven or more rebounds in all eight games this season and has four straight double-figure rebounding games … Gerardot’s double-double was the 12th of her career … Richards played all 40 minutes for the second time this season and six of the boards came on the offensive end … Jessica Carr (Arcadia, Ind./Hamilton Heights H.S.) tied a career high with six assists … Gerardot’s 10 boards tied a season high … Richards made 5-of-7 from the floor … Valpo played just six players in the contest … the Crusaders are allowing just 43 points per game over the last three contests … IPFW entered the game averaging 65.9 points per game and shooting 40% from the floor.