The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team went on the road and garnered an 81-68 win over Longwood on Sunday afternoon at Willett Hall in Farmville, Va. Three Crusaders finished in double figures – led by Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) with a season-high 25 points – as Valpo fended off two late runs by the Lancers to emerge victorious, a resilient effort less than 24 hours after a loss to Liberty. A day after being limited to 40 points, the Crusaders accumulated 81 on 49 percent shooting.
How It Happened
- After Bryce Blood scored the first basket of the game, Longwood (1-5) went on an early 7-0 run and eventually held an 11-4 lead.
- The Crusaders (3-3) scored the next 12 points to go up 16-11 – a run that saw Hamlet drain a go-ahead 3-pointer and Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) knock in a pair of triples.
- The Crusaders led 18-14 after one quarter, holding Longwood to 5-of-18 (28 percent) shooting in the opening 10 minutes.
- Hales swished a 3-pointer with 8:20 left in the second quarter to improve to 3-for-3 in the game and 7-for-7 on the weekend in 3-point shooting.
- Franklin’s first field goal of the contest came from beyond the arc with 7:36 left in the second quarter to build the lead to 24-16.
- The Lancers whittled the lead to three at 26-23 with 4:50 left in the second quarter.
- The Crusaders closed the half in style by hitting a pair of 3s in the final 42 seconds to turn a five-point edge into a double-figure cushion, 42-31 at the break. Hamlet hit the first of those consecutive 3s before Nicole Koniecznsy (Granger, Ind. / South Bend Saint Joseph) banked one in at the buzzer.
- The lead stood at double figures for nearly the first eight minutes of the third quarter, but Longwood’s Micaela Ellis scored the last five points of the period to allow the Lancers to outscore the Crusaders 20-15 in the third and face only a six-point deficit through three.
- Three 3-pointers early in the fourth helped Longwood go on a quick run, cutting the lead to two at 64-62 with only 6:48 left in regulation. It was still just a three-point game at 68-65 with three minutes remaining.
- Franklin was quiet for the first three quarters, but Valpo’s leading scorer came through when the team needed her most, making all four of her fourth-quarter field goal attempts and scoring 11 of her 17 in the fourth to help the Crusaders fend off the Lancers. She hit a key jumper with 1:59 left to build the lead to nine at 74-65, then Valpo executed at the free-throw line to nail down the victory.
Inside the Game
- Hamlet finished with 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 9-of-12 at the free-throw stripe. She reached a season high in scoring and turned in the third-largest scoring output of her career, behind only her two 29-point games – one last year at Youngstown State and one in 2015-16 at Northern Kentucky.
- A pair of post players joined Hamlet in double figures. Franklin turned in 18 points after her 11-point fourth and Blood scored an efficient 11 on 5-of-6 shooting. The freshman equaled her season high in made field goals with five, previously reached in the season opener against IU Kokomo.
- Redshirt freshman Marlee Proffit (Medina, Ohio / Highland) turned in seven points, five rebounds and two steals, going 2-for-2 from the floor and 3-for-4 at the free-throw line.
- The Crusaders have shot above 40 percent in five of their six games this season. They went 47 percent from 3-point on Sunday.
- The Crusaders won the rebounding battle 39-30 and each team had eight offensive boards. Valpo’s rebounding effort was a balanced one as six Crusaders had four rebounds or more, led by Franklin and Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) with six apiece.
- The Crusaders have scored 80 points or more in all three wins so far this season. They scored 80+ just once all of last season, a 102-47 victory over IU Kokomo. Before this season, the last time Valpo scored over 80 points in a Division I game was the 94-91, overtime Horizon League Tournament win over Detroit Mercy in 2015-16. They’ve already done so on two occasions this year.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
On Meredith Hamlet & Grinding Out the Win: “We were able to weather the storm in the second half when they came back twice. That’s a sign of a team that wanted to grind it out today. We fought hard to pull back away. A lot of that was due to Meredith Hamlet’s leadership. She took her time, led vocally, recognized mismatches and made plays. She cleared out a side and was able to attack and get layups. I’m really proud of her for making the right plays at the right times.”
On Dani Franklin’s Bounce Back Fourth Quarter: “At the beginning of the game, Dani struggled to find her shot and was trying to force it. We had a short conversation when she came out of the game and we talked about letting the game come to her. When crunch time came and we needed her, she stopped thinking and just made plays. She fed off the energy that other players provided.”
On the Team Effort: “Everyone played a big role, even those who didn’t play and brought energy on the bench. Ella had a couple blocks, both Bryce and Marlee were difference-makers. They were strong and solid inside and took good shots. Grace continued shooting well in the first half. Caitlin played better and was more consistent today. She defended better and was more disciplined. Longwood hit some tough shots and Caitlin made a considerable impact on the defensive end.”
The Crusaders will conclude a stretch of four consecutive road games on Friday night as they make their way to West Lafayette for a showdown with Big Ten foe Purdue. The game will air on BTN Plus and is slated to tip at 6 p.m. CT. In addition, the hometown radio call can be heard on WVUR, 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live video, audio and stats can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.