The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team limited turnovers, won the rebounding battle and received contributions from up and down the roster on its way to an 80-75 win over Grand Canyon on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Three Crusaders finished in double figures and Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) had five blocks – the last of which came on a 3-point attempt with seven seconds left in a three-point game to help nail down the victory.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (2-1) started strong, coming out of the gate with a 7-0 run ignited by a Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) 3-pointer. Valpo enjoyed early leads of 10-2, 13-4 and 16-8.
- Grand Canyon (1-5) leading scorer Brie Mobley came off the bench after missing the previous two games and helped the Antelopes gain ground, as they went on a 9-1 spurt to carry a 20-19 lead into the second quarter.
- Fouls hurt the Antelopes early in the second as Valpo scored five of its first seven points of the quarter at the stripe and Valpo entered the bonus with over seven minutes remaining in the half.
- Late in the second quarter, Allison Schofield (McCordsville, Ind. / Heritage Christian) came off the bench to make a key steal, leading to a fast-break 3 by Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) to build Valpo’s lead to 42-33.
- Grand Canyon scored the next five points, then cut the lead back down to three on a Jessica Gajewski 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half. The Crusaders went into the break with a 44-41 edge.
- Valpo began the second half on a 9-3 spurt that featured five points from Hamlet.
- After the Antelopes closed to within four at 55-51, the Crusaders embarked on a 9-0 run that started with an old-fashion 3-point play by Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) .
- Valpo outscored Grand Canyon 20-11 in the third to take a 64-52 lead to the fourth. That lead stood at double figures with 5:39 left in the fourth, but the Antelopes gave the Crusaders everything they could handle down the stretch.
- A jumper by Brie Mobley with 37 seconds left made it 76-75 Valpo, and Nicole Konieczny (Granger, Ind. / South Bend Saint Joseph) swished a pair of key free throws with 10 seconds left to boost the edge to three. Morrison blocked a 3-point attempt with seven seconds to go, then was fouled and drilled both at the stripe to clinch the win.
Inside the Game
- Franklin poured in a game-high 23 to boost her career total to 1,294, which lifts her past Amber Schober (1998-2002) and into fifth place on Valpo’s all-time scoring list. Franklin becomes the first Crusader to crack the Top 5 on Valpo’s all-time scoring list in the last decade.
- Franklin pulled down a game-high eight rebounds, while Bryce Blood (Toledo, Oiho / Whitmer) had three offensive boards to help Valpo to a 10-4 edge on the offensive glass and an overall rebounding advantage of 33-24.
- The Crusaders made just three turnovers in the first half and 10 for the game. Valpo also had seven steals and Grand Canyon totaled 11 turnovers.
- Morrison set a career watermark with five blocks, Konieczny went 6-of-6 at the free-throw line and dished out a career-high seven assists and Hales finished in double figures for the third straight game.
- Valpo went 26-of-30 (87.6 percent) at the free-throw stripe, a key factor in the victory.
- The Crusaders have won four straight home games dating back to last season – Valpo’s first four-game home winning streak since 2007-08.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
On the Home Success: “All those Valpo fans play a big role; we love the people in the gym. We love the ARC; we get to practice here every day. We feel comfortable and confident and it’s a much easier place for us to shoot the ball. Our players are in the gym all the time getting extra shots up. More than anything, we love the people here and appreciate the support of our home fans.”
Importance of Limiting Turnovers: “It’s always huge. If we don’t get those possessions, we don’t have those opportunities to score points. We took care of it, we got those shots and we got to the free-throw line a ton and we have a lot of good free-throw shooters.
On Nicole Konieczny: “I thought Nicole did a tremendous job handling the pressure. They were up trying to jab at her and do things. She turned the corner, drew fouls and got herself to the free throw line and made plays.”
The Crusaders will play four straight games on the road beginning with Tuesday’s visit to Bowling Green. The game will be carried on ESPN3 and can also be heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso with Payton Ball and Brandon Vickrey. The tip time is 6 p.m. CT from Bowling Green, Ohio.