A tilt that appeared destined for Crusader offensive watermarks quickly degenerated into an 82-59 defeat to Miami (OH) Wednesday at Millett Hall in Oxford.
The RedHawks transposed a 40-39 halftime deficit into a 23-point victory as the Brown and Gold managed just 19 second-half points. Miami's Hannah McCue erupted for 26 points and 15 rebounds, her second double-double of the season. The junior was 7-for-16 (43.8%) from three-point range as her 26 points represented a career high.
Both sides played an upbeat tempo in a first half that was tight the whole way.
It remained a one-possession game for the vast majority of the final ten minutes of the opening period. Abby Dean (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) popped a three from the corner on the Crusaders' final possession of the half to extend the Valpo lead to 40-36. However, Miami's Baleigh Reid answered with a triple from the wing that narrowly beat the buzzer to nudge the RedHawks to within 40-39 at the break.
Jessi Wiedemann (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) came on strong in the final five minutes of the half as she tallied seven straight points for the Crusaders. Her nine points led the team at half. Sharon Karungi (Kampala, Uganda/[Northern Oklahoma College]), who has battled back from injury, added six points and four rebounds.
The back-and-forth play that led to seven first-half lead changes ceased once second half play began.
Miami emerged from the locker room to open the half on an explosive 24-4 run. Valpo shot just 25% (6-for-24) in the closing half and didn't break out of single digits until an Anne Hamilton (Chanhassen, Minn./Minnetonka) trifecta with 4:30 left. Hamilton's three-pointer ended a seven-and-a-half minute field goal drought.
Valpo missed eight layups and matched a season-low with ten assists. The Brown and Gold did take better care of the basketball as they logged just ten turnovers, also tying a season-low.
Haylee Thompson (Hailey, Idaho/Wood River [Utah State]) had a strong game with eight points, six boards, and two steals.
Freshman Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/George Washington) was held under double figures for the first time in her young career. She had six points and nine rebounds. Franklin was forced to come out of the final four-and-a-half minutes of the first half after catching an inadvertent elbow to the face.
Valparaiso (3-4) will seek redemption on Saturday when Tulsa (3-4) comes to the ARC for a 1:35 pm tipoff. Brandon Vickrey will have the call alongside Jordan Morandini and Renee Turpa on WVUR. The game will also be carried live on ESPN3. Links to the audio, video, and live stats are up at ValpoAthletics.com.