A 13-3 run in the late stages of the second half by IUPUI was too much for the Valparaiso women's basketball team to overcome on Saturday afternoon, as the Crusaders fell by a final score of 75-69 to the Jaguars in Indianapolis, Ind.
The teams played a tightly contested first half, as the Crusaders trailed by just one possession for most of the frame. IUPUI pushed its lead out to five points at 29-24 on a Nicole Rogers 3-pointer with 3:22 to go in the half, but a pair of triples by senior Laura Richards (Connersville, Ind./Connersville) helped Valpo score 10 of the half’s final 15 points, capped by a 3-point play from freshman Lexi Miller (Caledonia, Mich./Caledonia) to leave the Crusaders and Jaguars tied at 35 at the half.
The first half of the second stanza played out much the same, as IUPUI led by three at 50-47 with 11:24 to play following a 3-pointer by Katie Comello. But the Crusaders went on a 10-2 run over the next four minutes to claim their largest lead of the game at five points. Junior Tabitha Gerardot (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury) started the run with an inside basket while being fouled, and two possessions later, sophomore Shaquira Scott (Wilmette, Ill./Loyola Academy) converted a fast-break layup to give the Crusaders a 51-50 lead.
IUPUI’s Karah Nelson scored on its next possession, but Valpo answered immediately in the paint, as redshirt junior Charae Richardson (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson [Vincennes]) got inside for a layup to reclaim the lead for the Crusaders. Two trips later, Richardson came up with a steal on the defensive end and hit Scott for a layup to make it 55-52 Valpo. Senior Gina Lange (Wyoming, Minn./Forest Lake) scored for the Crusaders on their next possession to extend the lead to five points at 57-52.
IUPUI scored the next five points, but freshman Jessi Wiedemann (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) answered with a triple to give Valpo a three-point lead with 5:25 remaining. The Jaguars scored seven in a row to take the lead before Gerardot hit a pair of free throws to tie the game with 4:06 to play. But IUPUI scored eight of the next nine points over the next three minutes to go up 70-63, and the Jaguars used free throws down the stretch to hold off the Crusaders.
Gerardot led Valpo on Saturday with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Scott added 14 points and Richardson 12. The Crusaders tallied 17 assists on their 25 field goals, but were hurt by 24 turnovers. IUPUI (2-1) was led by 14 points from DeAirra Goss and 13 from Nelson, the latter also picking up a team-high eight rebounds.
“We played awfully hard today and did a lot of good things – we shot the ball reasonably well and were good shooting down the stretch,” said Crusader head coach Tracey Dorow “But we didn’t knock free throws down when we had the opportunity, and IUPUI did down the stretch to put the game out of reach. We turned the ball over too many times and weren’t able to overcome that, and we have to do a better job on the boards as well [18 offensive rebounds for IUPUI]. IUPUI was more persistant and aggressive than we were tonight. But I think this will help us in the long run focus on areas we need to get better at, and we’re excited to come back out on Monday and come out tougher as a team.”
Valparaiso (2-1) continues its Indianapolis road swing on Monday evening at Butler at 6 p.m. CT. The game can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at valpoathletics.com, which will also have a link for live stats.