Valparaiso trimmed a 15-point, first-half deficit to four early in the second half at Youngstown State, but the Penguins responded with a big run and went on to beat the Crusaders 72-50 at the Beeghly Center on Monday night.
“We did a good job defensively of executing the game plan,” Crusader head coach Tracey Dorow said. “Of their 59 shot attempts, 35 were 3-pointers. They stood around and they launched it. If we do a little better job on the boards and we take care of the ball, the outcome is different.”
Sophomore Shaquira Scott (Wilmette, Ill./Loyola Academy) led the Crusaders with 14 points.
Trailing 34-26 at the break, Scott drained a pair of free throws to open the half, and junior Tabitha Gerardot (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury) followed with an offensive rebound and putback of a Scott miss to get Valpo within four at 34-30.
Youngstown State responded with a 12-1 run to lead 46-31 at the 13:41 mark. Brandi Brown had four points on the run, and Monica Touvelle and Liz Hornberger each made a 3-pointer.
The Crusaders closed to within 10 thanks to five-consecutive points from senior Gina Lange (Wyoming, Minn./Forest Lake), but the Penguins went on a 17-2 run to open up a 63-38 lead with a little more than six minutes to play.
Valpo scored the opening basket of the game, and then Youngstown State followed with a 10-0 run to lead 10-2. The Crusaders responded with eight of the next 10 points to get within two at 12-10 with 13:59 to play. Scott had two baskets in the spurt, while senior Laura Richards (Connersville, Ind./Connersville) added jumper and Gerardot had two free throws.
Youngstown State followed with a 15-2 run to lead 27-12 with 7:43 to go in the half. Touvelle hit three of her six 3-pointers on the night during the run.
Valparaiso chipped away at the lead, outscoring the Penguins 14-7 over the remained of the half. Scott started with a jumper, and freshman Abby Dean (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) followed with a basket. Gerardot, sophomore Jessica Carr (Arcadia, Ind./Hamilton Heights), Richards and Scott each had baskets. Junior Liz Horton (Cannelburg, Ind./Barr-Reeve) hit a jumper with 0:04 left in the half to trim the deficit to eight.
“We attacked the rim and we got to the paint,” Dorow said. “We really did a good job of getting the shots we wanted in that stretch, and we knocked them down.”
Scott scored 10 of her team-high 14 points in the opening half. She finished 6-of-9 from the field and was 2-of-2 at the free-throw line.
“Shaquira played with a lot of heart, especially in that first half,” Dorow said
Gerardot finished with eight points and eight rebounds. Lange added six, while Dean and Horton each scored five.
Touvelle led Youngstown State (21-7, 11-4 HL) with 20 points. Brandi Brown and Shar’Rae Davis each chipped in with 18. Davis also had five assists. Hornberger had five assists, and Melissa Thompson had six.
Valparaiso (9-19, 4-11) closes out the regular season on Saturday afternoon against Detroit. The game tips at 12:05 p.m. and can be seen live on the Horizon League Network. Links for the live video and game stats will be available on www.valpoathletics.com