Junior Charae Richardson (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson [Vincennes]) scored a career-high 18 points, and the Crusaders tied a season-best with nine made 3-pointers, but it was not enough as Valparaiso dropped an 82-75 Horizon League decision at UIC on Saturday afternoon.
The Crusaders shot 9-of-22 from behind the arc and were 28-of-56 from the field, but UIC forced 20 Valparaiso turnovers had a 21-13 edge in offensive rebounds.
“Our defense really broke down and we didn’t rebound the ball, and that’s something we really hang our hat on, rebounding and defense,” Crusader head coach Tracey Dorow said. “They got 50 percent of their misses back.”
A jumper from Tabitha Gerardot (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury) put Valparaiso ahead 41-40 at the 18:05 mark of the second half. After a pair of free throws from Rachel Story put the Flames back in the lead, Richardson drilled a trey from the top the key to put the Crusaders in front 44-42.
Junior Liz Horton (Cannelburg, Ind./Barr-Reeve) and sophomore Shaquira Scott (Willmette, Ill./Loyola Academy) each tallied game-tying baskets for the Crusaders, but UIC responded with a 7-1 spurt to take a 55-49 lead with 9:17 to play.
A three-point play from senior Gina Lange (Wyoming, Minn./Forest Lake) brought Valpo to within two at 57-55, and freshman Jessi Wiedemann (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) cut the deficit to one at 59-58 with 6:01 to play.
UIC went on a 10-0 run following Wiedemann’s basket to take a 69-58 lead with 3:19 to play. Valparaiso got as close as five, but could never cut the lead back down to one possession.
Richardson finished 6-of-11 from the floor (4-of-7 from behind the arc) and also dished out five assists. Lange added 14 points and five rebounds.
“We did a really nice job offensively despite their pressure,” Dorow said. “We scored 75 points and had 20 turnovers and that doesn’t happen very often.”
Sophomore Jessica Carr (Arcadia, Ind./Hamilton Heights) scored a season-best nine points, and Gerardot and Scott each tallied eight. Gerardot also grabbed eight rebounds and had five assists.
Nine of the ten Crusaders who saw action registered at least one made field goal.
UIC opened the game on a 7-0 run, but the Crusaders answered with a 22-8 spurt to lead 22-15 at the 10:55 mark of the first half. Horton and Carr punctuated the run with back-to-back 3-pointers.
Terri Bender led UIC (6-10, 2-1 HL) with 22 points (10-of-16 free throws). Katie Hannemann scored 20 points, and Taylor Foulks added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Valparaiso (6-10, 1-2) returns to action on Thursday when the Crusaders close out a two-game road trip with a visit to Milwaukee to take on the Panthers at 7:00 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.