The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team couldn’t slow down the top scoring offense in the Horizon League on Thursday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center, as Oakland prevailed 98-60. A pair of Valpo freshmen enjoyed strong performances as Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) scored a team-high 11 points and Maya Meredith (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral) chipped in a career-high seven.
How It Happened
- The Grizzlies pressured early and often, forcing the Crusaders into 13 first-quarter turnovers. Oakland posted 29 points in the first 10 minutes, 20 of which came off Valpo turnovers.
- After a layup by Amber Lindfors (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Elk Grove) made it 7-6 with 5:43 remaining in the first quarter, the Grizzlies put together a 17-0 run to build a 24-6 lead by the 3:04 mark.
- The Crusaders went over five minutes without a made field goal, a drought ended by a Haylee Thompson (Hailey, Idaho / Wood River [Utah State]) layup with 30 seconds remaining in the first.
- Oakland took good care of the basketball in the first quarter, making just two turnovers leading to no points. The Grizzlies owned a 29-13 lead after one stanza.
- Grace Hales knocked down three shots in the second quarter, scoring seven of her team’s 13 points in the period. Meanwhile, Valpo’s starting five totaled one point in that quarter.
- The Crusaders went into the locker room trailing 46-26.
- Valpo showed signs of life in the third quarter when it made an 8-0 run, featuring four points by Lindfors, to trim the deficit to 14 at 53-39 at the 4:39 mark. However, the visitors pulled away with a 13-0 run of their own to build the lead to 27.
- The Grizzlies matched their point total from the opening quarter by posting 29 in the fourth to wrap up a 38-point win.
Inside the Game
- Meredith’s seven points shattered her previous career best of four, which she had reached on two occasions – Jan. 22 against Wright State and Jan. 14 against Youngstown State.
- Meredith’s 26 minutes were by far the most she’s played in her career. Previously, her 15 minutes at Oakland on Dec. 31 was her career high. Meredith played more minutes on Thursday than she had in the previous four games combined.
- The four assists also marked Meredith’s career watermark.
- Hales has reached double figures twice in her last four games after not hitting that mark in any of her previous seven. She has five double-figure performances this season.
- Lindfors was credited with five blocks on Thursday and now has four or more in four straight tilts. Lindfors also enjoyed her third straight double-figure rebound game, pulling down 12 boards.
- Franklin scored eight points and had six rebounds, snapping a stretch of 11 straight games with double-figure point totals. It was just the third time this season she did not get to 10 points.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
- On the Game Plan: “The biggest factor that we had talked about was not turning the ball over or letting them score in transition, and they did both of those things. They scored in transition and they scored off our turnovers. That’s the difference in the whole game. We didn’t defend their personnel the way we wanted to. We tried to keep (Hannah) Little off the offensive glass, but she had six at the half. Taylor Jones is one of the best players in the league and we didn’t do a very good job defending her. We didn’t defend the way we had been defending. A lot of that comes down to turning the ball over.”
- On Maya Meredith: “We met about a week ago and talked about what she needed to do to get on the floor more. She’s started doing those things little by little. We weren’t anticipating that she’d jump in there and play 26 minutes, but we were trying to build on where she was and what she’s learned so far this season. You can tell she’s got skills that are pretty much unparalleled in our whole program. She’s got to learn how to use those skills and make sure she’s taking care of the ball. Offensively, she had the most confidence with the ball in her hands, so I’m really proud of the way she played.”
- On Grace Hales: “Grace played hard. She did a lot of good things. There were a couple of shots she didn’t take that she should have. She turned the ball over a couple times early, then she settled in. They are freshmen that are making strides, but they can’t be freshmen any more. It doesn’t matter at this point in the season, everybody is the same. We’ve got to go out there and get the job done.
- On Dealing with Oakland’s Press: “We allowed them to converge and trap. We played on our heels in the first quarter. They came after us. They were physical. They made plays and outplayed us the first 15 minutes. We did a good job early in the third quarter and cut it down to 14 points and I thought we were going to turn the corner, but then next thing you know it’s 20 again.”
The Crusaders will welcome Detroit Mercy to the Athletics-Recreation Center on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. The radio call can be heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso, WVUR. Links to live video, audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.