The Valparaiso women's basketball team hung around with the nation's fourth-ranked team in #4/4 Duke early on Friday evening in Durham, N.C., but the Blue Devils eventually pulled away and defeated the Crusaders by a 90-45 final.
“Obviously we ran into a very good Duke team,” said Crusader head coach Tracey Dorow. “I thought they played extremely well. I thought they executed well, put a lot of pressure on us, got a lot of tips on balls, got a lot of turnovers. I really thought our kids did a great job of scrapping, hustling and never giving up. I am proud of our team for doing that without our starting point guard, a senior point guard who averages 38 minutes a game and is really the glue to telling the rest of the girls what to do and when to do it. I thought we bounced back pretty well, but it’s a big struggle and we are growing in that area.”
The Crusaders led early on in Friday's contest, as an early 3-pointer from redshirt junior Charae Richardson (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson [Vincennes]) and a jumper from senior Gina Lange (Wyoming, Minn./Forest Lake) gave Valpo the 5-4 edge at the game's first media timeout. Duke scored eight of the next ten points to claim a 12-7 lead, but Valpo answered with a 3-pointer from sophomore Shaquira Scott (Wilmette, Ill./Loyola Academy) and a jumper by junior Tabitha Gerardot (Fort Wayne, Ind./Caledonia) to tie the game at 12 just over six minutes in.
The Blue Devils got a fast-break layup from Elizabeth Williams and then a third-chance 3-pointer by Chelsea Gray to push ahead by five points, but the latter basket was answered by a triple from junior Liz Horton (Cannelburg, Ind./Barr-Reeve) to bring Valpo within 17-15 at the second media break. But Duke scored the next 10 points over a stretch of four minutes, part of a 31-7 run the Blue Devils ended the opening half with to go into halftime ahead 48-22. The second half saw the Crusaders fight gamely, but Duke scored 30 points in the paint of its 42 second-half points to pull away.
Valpo was led by Gerardot's eight points and six rebounds on Friday, as nine of the 12 Crusaders who played scored at least three points. Freshman Abby Dean (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) scored her first five career points off the bench as well. Richardson handed out six assists to tie for game-high honors, while Gerardot came up with three steals. The Crusaders were limited to just 28.6% (18-of-63) shooting from the floor, including just 26.7% (8-of-30) from behind the arc.
Duke (3-0) placed five players in double figures, led by 18 points off the bench by Williams. Tricia Liston added a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Haley Peters chipped in 16 and nine.
Valparaiso (2-3) continues its road trip on Tuesday, Nov. 27 as the Crusaders travel to take on Western Illinois in Macomb, Ill. at 7 p.m.