The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team played stifling defense in the first quarter on Sunday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center, but Wright State bounced back with an even more dominant defensive effort in the second quarter on its way to a 65-52 victory over the Crusaders. Haylee Thompson (Hailey, Idaho / Wood River [Utah State]) finished with 15 points to lead Valpo in scoring for the first time this season.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (5-15, 0-9 Horizon) limited the Raiders (15-5, 7-1 Horizon) to just six first-quarter points, allowing Valpo to hold a 10-point lead after one quarter, 16-6.
- After a free throw nine seconds into the game put the Raiders up 1-0, Valpo embarked on a 9-0 run featuring four points by Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington).
- Wright State didn’t notch its first made field goal until Mackenzie Taylor swished a jumper with 4:43 left in the first quarter.
- The Crusaders held the Raiders to just 11.8 percent (2-of-17) shooting and 0-of-6 from 3-point land in the first quarter. In addition, Valpo made five of its eight shots for a shooting percentage of 62.5.
- Wright State scored the first five points of the second quarter to pull within five, before Thompson converted a layup to push the lead back to seven.
- Aside from Thompson’s layup, Valpo didn’t score for the first 5:12 of the second quarter, giving the Raiders time to battle back. The 10-point lead evaporated by the midway point of the quarter, when Chelsea Welch sunk a pair of free throws.
- Valpo totaled just four points in the second quarter, shooting 15.4 percent (2-of-13). They missed all three 3-point tries in the quarter and finished the first half 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. The Raiders held a 23-20 edge at the break after a low-scoring first 20 minutes.
- The Wright State lead fluctuated between five and seven for most of the third quarter. The Raiders eventually built the cushion to nine on a Lexi Smith jumper with three seconds to go in the period.
- Taylor connected from 3-point range 26 seconds into the fourth to allow Wright State to open up its largest lead at 42-30. The Raiders led by double figures the rest of the way.
- Franklin made a layup with 7:38 remaining to make it 44-34, but Valpo wouldn’t score again until Grace Hales made two free throws with 4:10 to go. During that stretch, Wright State went on a 14-0 run to render the remaining 4:10 academic.
Inside the Game
- The Crusaders held the Raiders to just 29.9 percent shooting and shot 38.8 percent, but Valpo was hurt by turnovers. The Crusaders committed 20 leading to 22 Wright State points, while the Raiders coughed it up just six times leading to three Valpo points.
- Thompson led the Crusaders in scoring with 15 points, one shy of a career high. She pulled down six rebounds, also one away from a career watermark.
- Thompson went 7-of-13 shooting to lead Valpo in scoring for the first time this season and finish in double figures for the second time this year and first since Nov. 21 against IU Kokomo.
- Franklin, who received a commemorative ball prior to the game to celebrate her 1,000th career point, reached double figures for the 18th time in 20 games. She finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
- Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) has started 51 straight games to begin her Valpo career.
- Hamlet dished out a career-high seven assists, while Hannah Schaub also helped on seven Valpo baskets.
- Wright State had 17 offensive rebounds to Valpo’s eight.
- The Raiders were led by Welch, who scored 19 points, while Emily Vogelpohl contributed 17.
Thoughts from Acting Head Coach Justin Rees
- Thoughts on the Game: “Defensively, we did a nice job until the fourth quarter when it turned into a scramble mode. We forced people to take shots against us, and that was exactly what we wanted to do, but the problem is we didn’t finish those plays very well. They crushed us on the offensive glass. You have to give Wright State a lot of credit. Even though they were struggling in the half court, that didn’t slow them down. They did a great job going to the glass and getting those second chances, and that was the difference in the game.”
- On the Start: “We hit some shots early, which we hadn’t done in a while. That was a good sign for us. We shot the ball well, 5-for-8 in the first quarter, but we were hurt by the five turnovers in that quarter. It was good to see the ball go in the hole, but that’s kind of expected. Call us silly, but we still believe we’re a good shooting team, we just haven’t been able to put it together in a conference game. You go back to nonconference games, this wasn’t really an issue; we were hitting shots when we needed them. Now, we’re defending and we’re working hard for long stretches. We’ve got to finish the play.”
- On Haylee Thompson: “Haylee’s always very impactful down low, it’s just a matter of whether or not her shots are able to fall for her. Tonight, they started to fall late in the game. Her post-up ability and her ability to take blows is great. She’s one of the best as far as technique and physicality and willingness to throw her body into the lane. Her positioning alone is one of the top in the conference. Once she feels more confident about her finishing, she’s going to be a huge advantage for us coming off the bench.”
- On UIC: “UIC is sitting in their building thinking the same thing, that this is one they can get. Both teams are desperate for a win. I expect a tough matchup. UIC is always a tough team for us with their athleticism. They will come out and be aggressive. If we’re able to control our tempo and cut our turnovers down, our chances are good.
The Crusaders will attempt to collect their first win in league play when they travel to UIC (3-17, 0-9) on Saturday. The game begins at 1 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. It can also be on heard on WVUR, 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.