A Valpo team that entered Friday's contest looking to lower opponents' field goal percentage achieved just that as the Crusaders blew past Chicago State 74-50 in the opening game of the Toledo Invite. The Brown and Gold kept the Cougars without a field goal for the first nine-and-a-half minutes of the ballgame. Valpo led by as many as 26 points in a first half that saw the defense yield just six field goals total.
"I'm just thrilled we got our first win. The best part about it was every player in uniform scored and got a rebound. It was a true team effort. We made a lot of big plays together and it was a lot of fun to watch," head coach Tracey Dorow said.
Liz Horton (Cannelburg, Ind./Barr-Reeve) had a flawless first half as the senior scored 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the floor. Lexi Miller (Caledonia, Mich./Caledonia) contributed seven points, all from the line. Sophomore Abby Dean (Carmel, Ind./Carmel), who scored the first five points of the game, had eight at the break.
The Crusaders led 36-19 at half as they confined Chicago State to 20% shooting in the first twenty minutes.
Valpo maintained its stranglehold on the Cougars in the second half, opening the stanza on an 18-7 run. Though both were limited to two points in the first half, Sharon Karungi (Kampala, Uganda/[Northern Oklahoma College]) and Jessi Wiedemann (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) erupted for dominating second halves.
Karungi earned her third double-double in the last four games as the junior shot 7-of-9 from the field in the second half. She finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds. The board total matched a season-high accomplished at Florida International University.
Wiedemann was a solid 6-for-6 from the charity stripe as she ended the evening with 14 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and four steals.
Valpo kept Chicago State out of striking distance for the entire second half, leading by no fewer than 18 points at any point.
Dean turned in her fourth game with at least 11 points. The guard represented a fast-break threat all afternoon, keeping a shallow Chicago State bench winded.
Freshman Aliyah Isaac (Richton Park, Ill./Marian Catholic) and Jazmin Taylor (Rock Island, Ill./Rock Island) both recorded their first points as Crusaders in the 74-50 triumph. Faith Miller's (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne) jumper in the paint with five minutes to play put all nine Crusaders in the point column.
Valpo accumulated 18 assists to 14 turnovers Friday while Chicago State recorded seven assists to 20 turnovers. The Cougars shot just 30% from the floor all game.
The win snapped a season-opening seven-game losing streak for the Brown and Gold. Valpo (1-7) will return to the court Saturday afternoon at 3:30 pm CT to challenge the host Toledo Rockets (4-3). The Rockets handed Detroit a 79-70 loss in the Friday evening game of the Toledo Invite.