All five Valpo starters scored double-digit points, but Tennessee Tech ended Sunday's tilt on a 10-0 run to squeak out an 84-78 victory at Eblen Center in Cookeville.
Lexi Miller (Caledonia, Mich./Caledonia), Abby Dean (Carmel, Ind./Carmel), and Jessi Wiedemann (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) all chipped in career-highs in points. Meanwhile, Sharon Karungi (Kampala, Uganda/[Northern Oklahoma College]) recorded her second double-double in the last four games, but her pair of free throws with 2:08 to go were the last points the Crusaders put on the board.
Valpo utilized a 14-2 run midway through the first half to turn a four-point deficit into an eight-point advantage. Charae Richardson (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson [Vincennes]) contributed nine of her eleven first-half points during the four-minute blitz that saw the Crusaders take a 30-22 lead.
The Brown and Gold led 38-33 at the break as they collected nine assists versus seven turnovers in the first twenty minutes. Valpo shot a season-best 53.8% in the first half led by a balanced scoring attack. In addition to Richardson's eleven, Miller and Dean scored eight and seven points, respectively.
The Crusaders' perimeter shooting hit a wall in the second half as they knocked down just four of 16 attempts from beyond the arc. A 19-2 Tennessee Tech run in the early part of the period gave the Golden Eagles a comfortable 60-49 cushion. Miller's third trey of the game with 8:37 remaining brought Tennessee Tech's run to a close. Furthermore, the three-pointer sparked a 15-3 Valpo run of its own. Miller sank her fourth three-ball to move the Crusaders ahead 64-63 with six minutes left. From that point, the game saw four ties and five lead changes.
Valpo extended its lead to 78-74 with two minutes to play. Tennessee Tech guard Diamond Henderson cut the deficit in half with a layup with 65 seconds on the clock.
The Golden Eagles' final eight points all came off free throws as they claimed an 84-78 win in front of nearly a thousand fans. Henderson scored 14 of her game-high 31 points in the last four-and-a-half minutes of the game. She was 5-of-11 from the floor and 9-for-9 from the line.
Though the team still searches for its first win of the season, many areas are trending in the right direction for the Brown and Gold.
The Crusaders shot 19-for-23 from the free-throw line. Their season aggregate now sits at 79.6%, tops in the Horizon League. Additionally, the number of turnovers are on a steady decline. Valpo committed a season-low twelve Sunday. For the first time in 2013-14, assists outnumbered turnovers.
"Tennessee Tech is very comparable to a lot of Horizon League teams. They're very athletic. They have good shooters. They play hard. So while conference play is still a ways away, this will serve us well down the road," head coach Tracey Dorow said.
Valpo will have a few days off as it prepares for the Florida International University Thanksgiving Classic in Miami. The Crusaders will battle the host Golden Panthers Friday at 5:00 pm CT at the U.S. Century Bank Arena.