Led by a career-high 28 points and a career-best 17 rebounds from Tabitha Gerardot (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury), the Valparaiso women’s basketball team rallied from a 19-point deficit in the first half to beat Ball State 58-53 on Saturday.
“I feel good about the things we have been working on,” Crusader head coach Tracey Dorow said. “I feel like we’ve been making progress this week and hopefully, we can carry that over into next week’s game.”
The double-double was the second of the season for Gerardot and the 15th of her career. She finished 8-of-18 from the field and 10-of-11 at the free throw line. She grabbed nine offensive rebounds and eight on the defensive glass.
Valparaiso, which trailed by as many as 19 in the first half, took the lead for good on a 3-pointer from Gerardot with 6:19 to play to go ahead 47-44. The shot came from the top of the key as the shot clock was expiring.
The basket was the last one the Crusaders made from the field. Valparaiso’s final 11 points came via free throws.
Gerardot and Shaquira Scott (Wilmette, Ill./Loyola Academy) each made a pair of free throws on back-to-back possession to give Valparaiso a 51-44 lead with 4:55 left.
After Ball State trimmed the margin to two, Scott nailed another pair of free throws to make it 54-50 at the 3:11 mark.
Neither team scored over the next two-and-a-half minutes, and Gerardot made four free throws in the final 33 seconds to close out the win.
Jessi Wiedemann (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) finished with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. All three of her treys came in the second half, with the last tying the game at 42-all with 8:19 to go.
The Crusaders posted their second-biggest rebounding margin of the season with a 47-27 edge on the glass. Valparaiso finished with an 18-11 edge in offensive rebounds, which accounted for a 20-3 advantage in second-chance points.
“We don’t win if we don’t rebound today,” Dorow said. “It came down to the fact that we got second-chance points and really took it to them on the glass.”
Scott finished with nine points, and Charae Richardson (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson [Vincennes]) added six points and eight rebounds.
Down 29-11 with 4:33 to go in the first half, the Crusaders finished the half on an 11-1 run to trail 30-22 at the break. Scott and Gerardot each had a pair of baskets during the run, and Ieva Jansone (Riga, Latvia/Agenskalna Gymnasium [Miles]) had a jumper.
Nathalie Fontaine led Ball State (3-10) with 14 points. Brittany Carter added 13, and Brady Woody chipped in with 12.
Valparaiso (4-8), which improves to 3-1 at the Athletics-Recreation Center, closes out the non-conference portion of the schedule when the Crusaders host Northern Illinois at 1:35 p.m. The game will be broadcast on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso, and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have a link for live stats.