A 58-point second half propelled the Valparaiso women's basketball team to a 91-57 victory over the visiting Butler Bulldogs Friday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The Crusaders, paced by Abby Dean (Carmel, Ind./Carmel)'s 21 points, matched their highest offensive output in a home opener since the inaugural game of the 1992-1993 season. Dean, who found the bottom of the net on her first eight shots, fueled a 19-5 Crusader surge that reversed a 15-11 deficit into a 30-20 advantage.
Annemarie Hamlet (McBain, Mich./McBain [Oakland]) sunk a three-pointer with a minute-and-a-half remaining in the first half to give the Brown and Gold a 33-22 halftime lead. Dean was responsible for 16 of Valpo's 33 points, while Ijeoma Uchendu registered 14 on 6-of-14 shooting.
The halftime break proved cataclysmic for the Bulldogs. During the intermission, Uchendu and teammate Sydney Buck came down with an illness. Uchendu was unable to return and Buck fought through an extended final twenty minutes.
Valparaiso kept its foot on the accelerator in the second stanza. The Crusaders led comfortably 65-50 with seven minutes to play before an 18-0 run allowed the home team to cruise to its first win of 2014-15.
Dean represented one of five Crusaders to finish in double figures. Sharon Karungi (Kampala, Uganda/[Northern Oklahoma College]) finished two rebounds shy of a double-double. The senior grabbed eight boards to go with 12 points. Freshman Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/George Washington) dazzled again on the home court as she shot 6-of-11 from the field as part of a 14-point evening. Hamlet recorded 11 points (3-for-5 three-pointers) in her first game in a Crusader uniform. Fellow newcomer Haylee Thompson (Hailey, Idaho/Wood River [Utah State]) dropped in ten points.
Butler's Blaire Langlois paced the Bulldogs with 20 points and six rebounds.
Though Lexi Miller (Caledonia, Mich./Caledonia) tallied just five points, the junior racked up eight assists without committing a turnover. As a team, the Crusaders totaled 22 assists to just ten turnovers. Sophomore Faith Miller (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne) nailed both of her attempts from beyond the arc as she added six points.
Valpo's 91-57 win on Friday represented a 49-point turnaround from last season's 65-50 defeat to the Bulldogs at the ARC.
Valparaiso (1-0) will take to the road next week as Indiana and Northern Illinois will play host to the Brown and Gold. The Hoosiers await the Crusaders on Tuesday night at 6 pm CT. Links to the audio and live stats will be available at Valpoathletics.com.