The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team owned an eight-point halftime lead after its third straight well-played half, but the Crusaders couldn’t seal the deal on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Cleveland State (12-11, 6-5) came from behind to eke out a 66-62 win over Valpo (6-17, 1-11). Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) finished with a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds in a game that featured eight ties and 11 lead changes.
How It Happened
- After Valpo scored the first basket of the game, Cleveland State led for much of the first six minutes. Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) knocked in two 3s in a 32-second span with 3:20 left in the first to put the Crusaders on top 17-14.
- The first quarter was high scoring, similar to the opening 10 minutes of Thursday’s win over Youngstown State. The Vikings held a 24-23 lead after one. Franklin was already in double figures with 11 points in the first stanza, while Olivia Voskuhl went 4-of-5 shooting in the first and had nine points.
- The Crusaders knocked down three 3s in the opening quarter, but would go 1-for-17 from beyond the arc for the remainder of the game. The only make was Hales’s third triple of the game, which came in the second quarter.
- The Crusaders played stifling defense in the second, holding the Vikings to four points. Valpo started the quarter on a 9-0 run and held Cleveland State scoreless for the first 6:38 of the period.
- The Vikings ended their offensive dry spell when Ashanti Abashaw swished a 3-pointer with 3:22 left in the second to cut Valpo’s lead to five.
- Cleveland State chipped away over the first five minutes of the third quarter, eventually tying the game at 42 on a 3 by Voskuhl with 4:48 to go in the third.
- The Crusaders entered the fourth with a narrow 46-44 lead. The Vikings held Franklin to just two points in the third.
- Franklin’s offensive productivity reignited in the fourth, when she scored 11 of her team’s 16 points.
- The Crusaders had the lead with 1:10 to go, but Jade Ely connected on a crucial 3-pointer to put Cleveland State up 56-55. That basket came after Ely had hauled in an offensive rebound to extend the possession.
- The Vikings would hold the lead for the remainder of the game. Their final 10 points all came on made free throws.
- Khayla Livingston missed a free-throw try with 10 seconds left that would have pushed the lead to two possessions, giving the Crusaders a glimmer of hope. Franklin secured the rebound. Franklin eventually attempted a jumper on the other end with two seconds left, and was fouled in the process. The Crusader bench erupted with excitement thinking Franklin would receive three free throws, but her foot was on the 3-point line, so she was awarded only two attempts. The call on the floor was confirmed after video review.
- Franklin made the first free throw to cut the lead to two, then missed the second intentionally, but Voskuhl snared the rebound, latching down the win for Cleveland State.
Inside the Game
- Franklin cracked Valpo’s all-time Top 10 in career scoring with her 26 points, passing both Lynda Kukla and Tamra Braun.
- Franklin also moved into Valpo’s all-time Top 10 for points in a single season.
- Franklin’s double-double was her sixth of the year and first since Jan. 20 against Northern Kentucky.
- Georgi Donchetz (Savage, Minn. / Burnsville) chipped in five points, six assists and seven rebounds, finishing one shy of career highs in both assists and rebounds. Donchetz did not turn the ball over.
- Amber Lindfors (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Elk Grove) clobbered five Cleveland State shot attempts, finishing one shy of her career high in blocks.
- As a team, the Crusaders blocked a season-high eight shots.
- Hales connected on three triples for the first time since the season opener at Stetson. She finished with 11 points, two shy of her career watermark.
- Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) went 6-of-6 at the free throw line, her first career game with more than three free throw makes.
- Franklin hadn’t swiped four steals in any of the first 80 games of her Valpo career. She has now notched four steals in back-to-back contests.
- Valpo held Abshaw (4-of-17) and Livingston (4-of-17) to inefficient shooting performances, but Livingston hurt the Crusaders at the stripe. She atoned for her 0-of-7 3-point shooting performance by going 14-of-18 at the foul line to finish with a team-high 22 points.
- Voskuhl went 8-of-14 and finished with 20 points. For the second consecutive meeting, Valpo held Abshaw well below her average. She entered the game tied with Franklin for second in the league in scoring at 18.3 points per game, but was held to 11.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
- Thoughts on the Game: “I thought we got off to a great start again. It was a high-scoring first quarter. In the second quarter, we did a tremendous job on defense. Unfortunately, we didn’t shoot the ball well enough to get a bigger lead than what we had. In the third quarter, we didn’t come out ready to go. Cleveland State made some plays and picked us apart at times. Livingston did a great job creating opportunities for her teammates to score.”
- On the Final Stretch of the Game: “I thought we turned it over in some critical moments and missed a couple shots. They got a few key offensive boards and made us pay. We just didn’t take control of the game, they took it from us.”
- On Defending Abshaw and Livingston: “I thought we forced them to take some really tough shots. We fouled Livingston a lot, and that was a lack of concentration on our part, because we were supposed to be denying her the ball and not letting her be the one to shoot free throws. She did a tremendous job finding seams and we didn’t move our feet well enough when we tried to block shots. We forced them to miss shots when we maintained our positioning.”
- On Putting Together a Complete Game: “We have to maintain the mentality that we’re going to put together 40 minutes. We did the other night, and we didn’t today. We were solid for 32 or 33 minutes. There were a few stretches where we didn’t get it done, and that was the difference in the game.
The Crusaders will hit the road to face off with Wright State on Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio. The game can be seen on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. In addition, it can be heard on WVUR, 95.1 FM Valparaiso with links to live video, audio and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.