Valparaiso trimmed a nine-point halftime deficit to one midway through the second half, but the Crusaders could not pull in front and dropped a 68-58 decision at Loyola on Wednesday night.
Charae Richardson (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson [Vincennes]) scored 16 points to lead three Valparaiso players in double figures. Shaquira Scott (Wilmette, Ill./Loyola Academy) added 15 points and eight rebounds, and Tabitha Gerardot (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury) chipped in with 11.
Jessi Wiedemann (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to get Valparaiso within one at 46-45 with 9:51 left in the game. The Ramblers answered with a 7-0 run to lead 53-45 at the 8:08 mark.
Scott had a pair of baskets and Richardson had two free throws and a hoop to get the Crusaders back within three at 56-53 with 4:30 left.
Loyola responded with 10-straight points to lead 66-53, and Valpo could get no closer than 10 for the remainder of the game. Simone Law, who led the Ramblers with 19 points, scored seven points on the run.
“She’s a handful down low,” Crusader coach Tracey Dorow said of Law. “She was very aggressive and very strong inside. She was a lot to handle down inside.”
The two teams struggled offensively in the early going, with the score being 6-6 at 11:56 mark. Loyola built the lead up to three, before Scott and Gerardot scored on back-to-back possessions to give Valparaiso its first lead of the game at 15-14.
The teams traded baskets, and the Ramblers took the lead 26-23 with 2:47 in the half. From that point, Loyola ended the half on a 8-2 run to lead 34-25 at halftime. Katie Faught hit two 3-pointers in 17 seconds for the Ramblers to take the lead from three to nine.
Scott scored nine of her 15 points in the opening half.
“She really did a nice job early in the game,” Dorow said of Scott. “When the slip happened she drove right into the paint, and she had a seam where she could score or she drew a foul.”
Gina Lange (Wyoming, Minn./Forest Lake) grabbed 10 rebounds and Laura Richards (Connersville, Ind./Connersville) pulled down eight for the Crusaders, who had a 43-34 edge on the glass but committed 17 turnovers.
Taylor Johnson totaled 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Loyola (9-13, 4-5 HL). Monica Albano scored 14 points and had five assists. Aryealle Beavers dished out seven assists. The Ramblers finished with 19 assists on 27 field goals.
Valparaiso (8-14, 3-6) begins a two-game home stand on Saturday, Feb 16 when the Crusaders host UIC at 1:05 p.m. The contest is a Play 4 Kay game, with breast cancer survivors being honored before the game. The action can be heard live on WVUR-FM, 95.1, Valparaiso. Links for the live audio, live video and live stats can be found on www.valpoathletics.com.