Valparaiso suffered a cold shooting afternoon from the floor on Saturday afternoon, dropping the final road game of the regular season to Milwaukee 50-31 at the Klotsche Center in Milwaukee, Wis.
The Crusaders connected on just 22% from the field (11-of-50), and made just 1-of-18 (5.6%) from three-point range in the defeat.
“They didn’t guard us tightly on the perimeter, playing more of a switching, sagging defense,” head coach Keith Freeman said. “They gave us threes all day and we just couldn’t make them.”
The Crusaders jumped on top early, forcing three Panther turnovers, all on steals, in the first three possessions of the game while building a 6-0 advantage.
“We moved the ball well early,” Freeman added. “Then we began missing shots. We tried to get the ball inside and it was crowded. It was one of those games where our lack of ability to score affected our energy, which then affected our ability to defend. It was very frustrating.”
Valpo went cold from the floor though, going 1-for-14 over a 12-and-a-half minute stretch as Milwaukee battled back to take a 23-11 lead. The Crusaders finally ended a 10:40 draught from the floor with a Tabitha Gerardot (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury H.S.) lay-in and Ashley Timmerman (Pontiac, Ill./Pontiac H.S.) followed with Valpo’s lone triple of the game as Valpo scored the final five points of the half and trailed 26-16 at the break.
Milwaukee (9-18, 5-11 Horizon) started the second half on a 9-2 spurt as Valpo again made just one of its first nine shots to build a 17-point advantage. The lead then stayed 13 or more the rest of the way as the Panthers posted the victory on Senior Day in Milwaukee.
Sami Tucker made all three of her three-point attempts on her way to a game-high 13 points for Milwaukee while Angela Rodriguez also made three triples on her way to 11 points. Gerardot led Valparaiso with 11 points while Gina Lange (Wyoming, Minn./Forest Lake H.S.) grabbed a game-best 10 rebounds.
Milwaukee finished the game shooting 56.3% (9-of-16) beyond the arc.
“This week wasn’t a good week for us,” Freeman concluded. “We had two kids (Ashley Timmerman and Jessica Carr) who couldn’t practice all week. We need to just regroup and get ready for next weekend.”
Valparaiso (8-19, 4-12) will return home to the Athletics-Recreation Center on Thursday evening to begin its final homestand of the season. The Crusaders will host Wright State in a 7:05 p.m. tip-off.
Game Notes: Milwaukee leads the all-time series 14-5 and have won five straight meetings between the two schools … Laura Richards (Connersville, Ind./Connersville H.S.) handed out three assists and now has 280 for her career, passing Suzie Hammel (2000-2004) for eighth on Valpo’s career list.