The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team ended the regular season on a positive note for the second consecutive year, defeating UIC 72-63 on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center. In the process, the Crusaders latched down the No. 9 seed in the Horizon League Tournament and a date with No. 8 Youngstown State in the first round.
How It Happened
- The two teams were tied 5-5 early, but the Crusaders (9-20, 4-14) went on a 17-0 run to take a commanding 22-5 lead. Allison Schofield (McCordsville, Ind. / Heritage Christian) connected on two triples, Amber Lindfors (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Elk Grove) had five points and Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) chipped in four during the spurt.
- Brittney Byrd of UIC (5-24, 2-16) stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer at the 1:08 mark to make it 22-8. The score stayed that way through the end of the first quarter. The Flames notched the first basket of the second quarter, but a 7-0 run followed to build the lead to 19.
- The Crusaders continued to roll through the remainder of the first half and owned a 39-16 halftime lead.
- Valpo hit a hiccup in the third quarter as the Flames went on a 13-0 run to make a game of it at 41-26 with 6:02 left in the third.
- The Flames outscored the Crusaders 20-16 but still trailed 55-36 going to the fourth.
- The Crusaders withstood 12 fourth-quarter turnovers to hang on for a 72-63 win.
Inside the Game
- Franklin finished with 26 points to lead all scorers. She knocked down all six free throw attempts and pulled down seven rebounds.
- Valpo has now beaten four teams in the second meeting of the year after dropping the first matchup. This is the first time Valpo’s done that since joining the Horizon League.
- It’s also the first time the Crusaders have won their final two home games of the season since 2006-07, their final season in the Mid-Con.
- Franklin surpassed Michelle Russell’s 1993-94 season for third on Valpo’s single-season scoring list on Saturday. Franklin now has 526 points this season.
- Franklin also passed Aimee Forsman (1988-92) for ninth on Valpo’s all-time scoring list. In addition, the Valpo junior passed Tabitha Gerardot’s 2012-13 season for fourth on Valpo’s single-season made field goals list. Franklin has 186 made field goals this year.
- Imani Scott-Thompson (Akron, Ohio / Firestone [Dakota College at Bottineau]) and Haylee Thompson (Hailey, Idaho / Wood River [Utah State]) were recognized before and after the game on Senior Day. The senior duo played in their final game at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
- Scott-Thompson received the start for the Crusaders, the first of her career. She played 13 minutes.
- Thompson gobbled up nine rebounds, marking a career high.
- Lindfors contributed eight points and six rebounds, while Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) chipped in eight points.
- The Crusaders overcame 26 turnovers thanks to a strong shooting performance. Valpo shot 46.6 percent, while limiting UIC to 33.3. The Flames’ offense came around in the second half after shooting 17.6 percent in the first quarter and 11.8 percent in the second.
- UIC was led in scoring by Byrd, who finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. Terri Bender chipped in 13.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
- On the Start: “I thought we did a lot of good things early. We came out and really started attacking them. We put them on their heels and moved the ball well. Even when we gave up a couple rebounds early, we did a good job finishing possessions and not letting them have any second chance points.
- On the Second Half: “We just didn’t defend as well. Some of it came from turnovers that led directly to easy baskets for them. Those are things we can’t have.”
- On Defending Taylor Toney: “We did a much better job than the first time knowing where she was at. She didn’t get nearly as many rebounds; she had a ton of offensive boards last time. She had some good looks and missed some, but she also had a lot of tough ones.
- On Improved Shooting: “I think these guys are playing within their roles. In the first half, we got people shots where they wanted them. Everybody did what they do best. We didn’t take bad looks in the first half hardly at all, and we didn’t turn it over as much.
- On Bench Production: “It’s huge because it takes a lot of pressure off the people that are on the floor. It keeps the energy going. We can rotate people in and out and give them rest. It allows us to play harder for longer and keep everyone fresh.
- On the Seniors’ Resiliency: “Our whole team is relentless. That’s the way the culture has been. The whole team has raised the standard from last year to this year. They all want the same thing. They have the same goals in mind. The players aren’t allowing anybody to step back and not do the things they need to be doing. It’s a team standard at this point.”
The Crusaders will play Youngstown State in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament on Friday, March 3 at 1:30 p.m. CT. The game can be seen on ESPN3 with Andy Masur handling play-by-play. The hometown call is available on 95.1 FM Valparaiso with David Horak (play-by-play) and Renee’ Turpa (color commentary). Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.