Two Valparaiso University women’s basketball underclassmen point guards combined for 24 points, nine assists and just one turnover on Tuesday at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio, but host Bowling Green shot 53 percent on its way to a 90-77 triumph. Freshman Nicole Konieczny (Granger, Ind. / South Bend Saint Joseph) was two assists shy of a double-double as she had eight to go along with a career-high 13 points, while Maya Meredith (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral) also reached a career best with 11.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (2-2) played their best defense of the game in the early going, as they frazzled Bowling Green’s offense over the first five minutes. The Falcons were held scoreless through the first media timeout as Valpo grabbed a 7-0 lead before Bowling Green finally made its way onto the scoreboard with 4:53 left in the first quarter.
- By quarter’s end, what had been a seven-point Valpo lead turned into an 11-11 deadlock.
- After Bowling Green (6-1) took its first lead of the game early in the second, Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) hit a 3 to put Valpo back on top 14-13. The Falcons regained the lead 30 seconds later at 15-14, and did not relinquish that edge for the game’s duration. Bowling Green outscored Valpo 26-16 in the second quarter and 32-23 in the third.
- The Crusaders used a pair of timeouts early in the third quarter, but could not slow a hot-shooting Bowling Green team that expanded a 37-27 halftime edge into an 18-point advantage with 6:44 to go in the third.
- Valpo turned it over just once in the second half, but first-half turnovers played a key factor as Valpo gave it away 12 times before the break.
- The Crusaders showed positive signs offensively, but couldn’t catch up to a Bowling Green team that has won six of its first seven and is two wins away from matching its season win total from a year ago.
Inside the Game
- Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) led her team in scoring for the third time in four games, again reaching double figures with 17 points.
- Meredith and Konieczny each enjoyed career highs in scoring, both joining Franklin in double figures. Konieczny’s eight assists also marked a season watermark for the Valpo rookie.
- Bryce Blood (Toledo, Ohio / Whitmer) returned to her home area and posted nine points including 5-of-5 at the free-throw line.
- Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) was the team’s leading rebounder with eight while also chipping in nine points.
- The Crusaders shot 42.9 percent and have finished above 40 percent from the field in each of the team’s first four games this season. This marks the first time in over 20 years Valpo has started the season with four consecutive games shooting better than 40 percent.
- After not making any free throws in the first half on just two attempts, the Crusaders went 18-of-20 at the stripe after halftime.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
“We came out really strong. We started out hitting shots and defending very well. Our rotations were good and we forced them to rush their offense. After that, we lost our defensive focus and struggled on the offensive side of the ball as well. We got to halftime and talked about the turnovers and our rotations. We got a lot more aggressive on the offensive side in the second half. One area that hurt us tonight was defensive rebounding. It was a 50-50 ball every time they shot it. We didn’t stay active defensively.”
“There were some definite bright spots, but we need to do a much better job defensively. There were too many times we didn’t come up with it and they made a big play. I’m proud of our team for fighting to the end, but we just had too many lapses tonight.”
“Maya was ultra-productive for the minutes she played. She was a lot more aggressive offensively, looking for her shots and trying to score. Nicole attacked the paint, took shots when she needed to and was under control enough to make plays and make the right passes. I’m pleased with the fact that they had nine assists and only one turnover; that’s a big deal. I’d like to see them both defend better. We need to learn from this loss and continue to get better.”
The Crusaders will play back-to-back games in the state of Virginia on Saturday and Sunday, beginning with Saturday’s showdown with Liberty that starts at 3 p.m. CT. on the Big South Network and ESPN3 with Rett McGibbon (play-by-play) and Kelley Deyo (color commentary). In addition, the game can be heard on WVUR, 95.1 FM Valparaiso with Ben Ariano (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (color commentary). Links to live video, audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.