The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team was all smiles after Thursday’s 77-60 victory over Youngstown State at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The Crusaders built a double-figure lead with a strong second quarter and never looked back en route to their first Horizon League victory of the season. The team breathed a collective sigh of relief after snapping a 12-game losing streak and corralling its first victory since Dec. 10. Amber Lindfors (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Elk Grove) led the way with 22 points and 11 rebounds on 9-of-15 shooting.
How It Happened
- Youngstown State owned a narrow lead for much of the early stages of the game, until Hannah Schaub (Brooklyn Park, Minn. / Park Center) connected on a 3-pointer with 3:11 left in the first to tie the game at 17.
- Following a free throw by Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington), Allison Schofield (McCordsville, Ind. / Heritage Christian) laid it in with 2:02 left in the quarter to put Valpo up 20-17.
- The scoring barrage continued as Youngstown State scored the next five points, before Schofield swished a 3 with 59 seconds left in the quarter to put Valpo ahead 23-22.
- Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) made a layup with 29 seconds left in the first quarter to make it 25-22, but then Melinda Trimmer knocked down a 3 to tie the game at 25 after a fast-paced first quarter.
- The two teams combined for 19 made field goals in the quarter. Alison Smolinski continued to hurt the Crusaders, as Youngstown State’s top scorer from the first meeting of the year led all scorers with eight points after one period.
- The Crusaders dominated the second quarter, outscoring Youngstown State 18-8 to take a 10-point cushion into the locker room. The Crusaders started the quarter on a 15-2 run behind a balanced attack highlighted by two Georgi Donchetz (Savage, Minn. / Burnsville) triples.
- Donchetz had already matched her career high of 10 points by halftime.
- A productive third quarter from Lindfors helped the Crusaders keep their double-figure edge. She scored 10 points in that stanza alone to lift her team to a 60-48 lead after three.
- After a jumper by Morgan Brunner at the 8:48 mark of the fourth made it 63-50, the Crusaders embarked on a 9-0 run to push the lead to 22 and put the game away. The nine-point run featured five points from Franklin.
Inside the Game
- Head coach Tracey Dorow's return to the bench was a triumphant one. She reclaimed her post after missing the previous six games while recovering from neck surgery.
- Lindfors put together her second double-double of the season and first against a Division-I opponent. Her 22 points shattered her previous career high of 17 set against Grace earlier this season. The 11 boards matched a season best, while nine made field goals was also a career watermark.
- Donchetz had reached 10 points on three prior occasions, but had never moved past that plateau. She exploded for 15 points on an efficient 5-of-8 shooting, matching her career high in made field goals while setting her scoring best. She also hauled in four rebounds.
- Franklin’s 17 points lifted her past Suzie Hammel (2000-2004) and into 12th place on Valpo’s all-time scoring list with 1,079 career points. Franklin also grabbed eight rebounds and a career-high four steals.
- The Crusaders had 11 steals as a team, matching a season-high. It was their third time with double-figure steals this season and first since Dec. 3 against Eastern Illinois.
- The Crusaders outrebounded the Penguins 46-33. Valpo shot 42.9 percent, while Youngstown State finished at 39.3.
- Valpo’s eight made 3s was its highest total in the last seven games.
- The Crusaders achieved the victory despite playing without starter Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) and key reserve Haylee Thompson (Hailey, Idaho / Wood River [Utah State]), who were sidelined by injuries. Hamlet snapped a streak of 52 straight starts to begin her Valpo career.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
- Thoughts on the Game: “Winning is always much more fun than losing. We played very well together. I was so pleased. The first quarter was high scoring on both sides. We’d been struggling to score and defending better, but then we didn’t defend as well as we wanted to early and it was 25-25 after one. I thought we settled in defensively in the second quarter and got a ton of deflections. I’m really proud of our defensive effort.”
- On Amber Lindfors: “I think she’s decided she has to do more on offense. For us to win games, she has to step it up and play the way one of the best posts players in the league should be playing. We’ve put a little pressure on her, and we’re going to continue to expect big things from her. It’s hard for us to get anything going on the perimeter when we’re not having the interior game and the presence Amber brings us.”
- On Returning to the Team: “It felt really good. I have a ton of energy right now because I’ve been out for a couple weeks. These guys gave me a lot of energy by playing well. That helps a ton. I’m excited to be here. I missed them and missed being here.
- On Offensive Rebounding: “We’re trying to focus on that. We don’t want to worry so much about missing, we want to just crash and get second-chance points and we did a great job today of getting in there. Youngstown was short-handed today and didn’t have size. We outplayed them at the right times in this game. Every night is going to be a battle, and we have a ton to prove right now.”
- Looking Ahead: “Cleveland State is super scrappy. They’re totally different than Youngstown, so the prep is totally different. We did a great job of taking the 3 away from Youngstown, and they still went 10-for-30. Cleveland State can shoot it, but they’re more athletic and focused on driving and transition. We’re going to have to focus on those things.”
The Crusaders remain home to face off with Cleveland State on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The game can be seen on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. David Horak will provide play-by-play, with Renee’ Turpa and Alex Adrian adding color commentary. The game will be heard online via UStream and will be joined in progress on WVUR, 95.1 FM Valparaiso after the completion of the Valpo men’s game at Green Bay. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.