Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) enjoyed a career night with 29 points and 10 rebounds, but the Valparaiso University women’s basketball team fell 76-70 at the Beeghly Center in Youngstown, Ohio. Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) added 12 points for the Crusaders, who had a five-point lead at halftime.
How It Happened
- After the two teams traded baskets in the first three minutes, Youngstown State snapped a 7-7 tie on a layup by Kelley Wright that sparked a 12-0 run by the Penguins.
- The Crusaders went nearly three minutes without scoring during the Youngstown State run, a drought that ended when Hamlet connected on a jumper from the lane with 4:36 to go in the quarter.
- Hamlet grabbed a steal and then scored a transition basket to cut the lead to eight. Hamlet continued to will her team back into the game for the remainder of the quarter, and Valpo eventually had the deficit down to six at 21-15 after one.
- The second quarter was a prosperous one for the Crusaders, who outscored the Penguins 20-9.
- The Crusaders took their first lead since 5-2 when a blocked shot by Amber Lindfors (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Elk Grove) on the defensive end set up a Hamlet jumper with 3:35 to go in the half to make it 28-27 Valpo.
- After Youngstown State regained the lead, the Crusaders went back on top when freshman Maya Meredith (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral) had her most impressive play of the season, finishing on a basket despite being fouled to make it 30-29 with 3:05 to go in the half.
- Hamlet found an open Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) for a corner 3 with 1:03 left in the second quarter to extend Valpo’s lead to 35-29. The Crusaders held a 35-30 advantage at the break.
- Alison Smolinski, who had missed the previous two games due to an injury, spearheaded a favorable third quarter for the Penguins, who outscored the Crusaders 20-11. Smolinski scored 17 of her team-high 19 points after halftime.
- Indiya Benjamin hit a critical 3-pointer with 3:33 left in the third, giving the Penguins their first lead of the second half. Benjamin, second on the team in scoring this season, was held to five points and didn’t score in the first half.
- The game went back-and-forth for the remainder of the third, but Smolinski drained a triple with 16 seconds to go in the period to boost Youngstown State’s lead to 50-46, an edge they would never relinquish.
- Every time the Crusaders showed life in the fourth, the Penguins answered. They outscored Valpo in the final quarter 26-24.
Inside the Game
- Hamlet tied a career high in scoring that she set in her first career Horizon League game back on Dec. 30, 2015 at Northern Kentucky. She went 12-of-17 from the field, establishing a new career best for made field goals. This was the 23rd time in program history a player has made 12 field goals or more in a single game.
- Hamlet thrived in all aspects of the game. She pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds, just one week after setting her personal best with eight boards against Milwaukee. On top of posting her first career double-double, Hamlet matched a career watermark with three steals.
- In addition, the sophomore reached the 500-point mark for her Valpo career.
- Franklin found her way to double figures for the 15th time in 17 games this season. She passed Cheryl Wilbrandt (1989-93) to move into the Top 15 in Valpo history in career scoring. Franklin now sits at 989 career points.
- Lindfors was a force on defense throughout the evening, racking up four thunderous blocks. She also had six points and gobbled up eight rebounds.
- The Crusaders did a strong job on the glass, outrebounding the Penguins 42-31 and holding a 13-2 offensive rebounding edge.
- Meredith scored a career-high four points.
- Smolinski was one of three Penguins in double figures, joined by Mary Dunn (18) and Morgan Brunner (17).
The Crusaders (5-12, 0-6 Horizon) continue a tough stretch of travel. They will return to Valpo on Saturday evening before departing for Green Bay on Monday morning. A date with the first-place Phoenix on Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT is looming next. The game can be seen on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. In addition, the hometown call can be heard with Jordan Morandini (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (color commentary) on WVUR 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.