Freshman Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/George Washington) led all scorers with 18 points, but the Crusaders dropped an 81-62 contest Tuesday night in a game that may be best remembered for its DakotaDome-record 11 jump balls. Nicole Seekamp led South Dakota with 16 points and six assists as the Coyotes extended their winning streak to five games.
The Coyotes (7-2) got off to a fast and furious outset. Four different players contributed to a 10-0 game-opening spurt. South Dakota point guard Tia Hemiller recorded a pair of steals within 45 seconds that she parlayed into four fast break points. Jessica Carr (Arcadia, Ind./Hamilton Heights) brought an end to the run with a nice runner down the right side of the lane.
Franklin checked in at the 15:00 mark and immediately put her fingerprints on the game. She popped a three from the top of the arc to stop the bleeding. It was her first of three in the first half.
Offensively, the Crusaders were a two-person show until Haylee Thompson (Hailey, Idaho/Wood River [Utah State]) nailed a jumper with a little more than five minutes to play in the half. Freshman Jasmyn Walker (Muskegon, Mich./Mona Shores) scored four of her eight points just before the first horn.
South Dakota raced out to a 42-24 halftime lead. Franklin had eleven points at the break.
Valpo enjoyed a much more balanced scoring output in the closing period. Lexi Miller (Caledonia, Mich./Caledonia) shot 3-for-6 from the field and knocked down all three of her free-throw attempts in the final stanza as she finished with ten points. Thiompson added six in the second half while Abby Dean (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) and Walker pitched in four.
Georgi Donchetz (Savage, Minn./Burnsville) made her Brown and Gold debut. She found the bottom of the net on her only shot attempt of the night, a triple from the corner.
Valparaiso was never able to trim the deficit to closer than 16 points during the final twenty minutes. The Coyotes' run-and-gun tempo yielded 12 fast break points.
The most glaring disparity came on the boards. South Dakota owned a 56-32 rebounding advantage, including a 15-5 edge on the offensive end. Defensively, Valpo did notch a season-high nine steals.
Both teams shot superbly from the charity stripe. The Coyotes were 19-for-20 (95%) from the line while the Crusaders converted 12 of their 13 (92.3%) attempts.
Valparaiso (3-6) will have a few days to prepare for Illinois (7-3). The Fighting Illini visit the Athletics-Recreation Center on Saturday at 1:35 pm.
Brandon Vickrey, Renee Turpa, and Tommy Mantice will deliver the action on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). ESPN3 will carry live streaming of the game. Links to both as well as live stats are available at ValpoAthletics.com.