Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) had a fair share of memorable games during her first two seasons in a Valpo uniform. But the now junior reached a previously uncharted threshold in the Crusaders’ 87-75 season-opening loss at Stetson.
Franklin poured in a career-high 34 points in her first game as a full-time starter, serving as one of numerous bright spots in a loss to a quality team that has won 20 or more games in each of the last six seasons. The 34 points marked the fifth-best single-game performance in Valpo history and the best since 1992.
How It Happened
- Just 10 seconds into the game, Stetson grabbed the lead on a layup by JUCO transfer Brittney Chambers. That established the tone for a strong start from the Hatters, who sprinted out to a 20-8 lead in the first six minutes. ASUN Preseason Player of the Year Brianti Saunders knocked down three early triples to help the Hatters establish the 12-point edge.
- The Crusaders bounced back with an 11-0 run to trim the lead to 20-19 at the 8:36 mark of the first quarter. Franklin scored all 11 points during the push.
- Then the Crusaders went 4:27 without scoring and missed all nine field-goal attempts during that stretch. However, the Hatters scored just four points during the Valpo scoring drought.
- Valpo captured its first lead of the game with 2:56 left in the second quarter when Franklin swished a 3-pointer to put the Crusaders up 27-26. At halftime, Valpo trailed 33-31.
- The Crusaders started slow in the second half. They were plagued by a four-minute scoring drought early in the third. Overall, the Hatters outscored the Crusaders 28-19 in the third quarter.
- Valpo scored the first seven points of the fourth to make it a four-point game with 8:15 remaining. They whittled the lead to two at the 6:46 mark, but would get no closer.
- Franklin and Amber Lindfors both battled late foul trouble and finished with four apiece.
- The Hatters pulled down 22 offensive rebounds against Valpo’s 21 defensive rebounds. Overall, Stetson outrebounded the Crusaders 45-30.
- The Crusaders made 20 turnovers leading to 28 Stetson points.
Inside the Game
- The Crusaders rolled out two new assistant coaches, five new players and one new season on Saturday, but it was a familiar face who took center stage. Franklin finished the first half with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. She knocked down four 3-pointers before halftime.
- Franklin bested her previous career high by nine points. She finished 12-of-19 and went 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Before Saturday, the highest scoring output of her career was 25 points, set on Dec. 30, 2014 against Purdue Calumet and matched on Feb. 11, 2016 against Oakland.
- Franklin turned in the highest point total by any Crusader since Feb. 18, 1992, when Debbie Bolen scored 38 points at Northern Illinois.
- Franklin becomes the third player in Valpo history to score 34 points or more in a single game, joining Bolen and Stephanie Greer, who set the program record with 39 in 1990. Bolen reached the 35-point mark in single games on three separate occasions.
- The 12 made field goals and five made 3-pointers also marked new career watermarks for Franklin. Her .714 single-game 3-point percentage tied for 10th in program history.
- Franklin wasn’t the only junior to shine on Saturday, as classmate Georgi Donchetz (Savange, Minn. / Burnsville) dished out a career-high seven assists. After playing no more than nine minutes in any one game a year ago, Donchetz played 22 minutes off the bench.
- Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) reached double figures with 12 points, while freshman Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) chipped in nine in her regular season Valpo debut. This marks the third straight season a Valpo freshman has scored nine points or more on opening night, as Hamlet did so a year ago and Franklin did the same in 2014.
- Stetson’s Brittney Chambers and Brianti Saunders scored 20 points apiece. Sarah Sagerer tied a single-game school record with eight blocked shots.
The Crusaders (0-1) travel to Chicago State (0-1) to battle the Cougars on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT. Links to audio and live stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.