Valparaiso University women’s basketball freshman Nicole Konieczny (Granger, Ind. / South Bend Saint Joseph) reached a career high with 18 points in Sunday’s game against Bradley, an 88-69 defeat at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Konieczny was joined by Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) and Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) in double figures.
How It Happened
- Konieczny’s strong offensive showing started right from the outset, when the freshman point guard knocked down all three shots she attempted in the first quarter, including one 3-pointer.
- The Braves (9-5, 3-0 MVC) led throughout the first period despite missing five of their six 3-point attempts by virtue of their success in the turnover battle. The Crusaders (8-7, 1-3) shot 53 percent, but made six turnovers to Bradley’s zero.
- Bradley’s lead was a narrow 21-18 through the opening 10 minutes, and the Crusaders stayed within three going into halftime. The two teams were even 21-21 in the second quarter with Konieczny pouring in six more to crack double figures before the break.
- Valpo gained its first lead of the game when Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) hit a 3 to make it 28-27 with 6:14 left in the second, then led again at 29-28 half way through the quarter, but the Braves regained the upper hand nine seconds later and held it for the half’s duration. Bradley’s edge was 42-39 at the break.
- The game’s most critical swing took place early in the third quarter, when Bradley scored eight straight coming out of halftime, building the lead to double figures at 50-39. Valpo’s first field goal of the second half came with 3:30 to go in the third on a layup by Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South).
- Bradley took a 64-53 lead to the fourth after outscoring Valpo 22-14 in the third period. The Braves did so without a made 3 (0-for-4) but did shoot 50 percent (8-16). The Crusaders were limited to 2-of-12 shooting (16.7 percent) in the third but did go 10-of-11 (90.9 percent) at the free-throw line.
- Hamlet made two early fourth-quarter baskets, including a 3 with 8:50 remaining to cut the lead to single digits at 67-58. However, a 9-0 Bradley run followed to double the lead to 18 with 6:18 to go, setting up the Braves to coast to the victory.
Inside the Game
- Konieczny shattered her career high by virtue of the 18-point performance. Her previous personal best came on Nov. 28 at Bowling Green, when she scored 13 points. She also handed out five assists and pulled down a pair of rebounds.
- Hamlet matched a season high with five rebounds, previously reached on Nov. 25 vs. Grand Canyon. She was one board shy of a career best. Hamlet also finished with 16 points, seven of which came in the fourth quarter.
- Franklin made her way into double figures for the 11th time in 15 games this year. She finished with 10 points, moving to within 11 points of passing Sarrah Stricklett for second in program history and 12 of becoming the second Crusader ever to reach 1,500 career points.
- The 69 points was the most scored by the Crusaders in a loss since Nov. 28 at Bowling Green (90-77).
- This was the first time all season the team with the better free-throw percentage in a Valpo game did not win. The Crusaders shot 87.5 percent at the stripe to Bradley’s 86.4 percent. However, Bradley had 22 attempts to Valpo’s 16.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
On Bradley: “Bradley is an extremely physical team that plays tough, and we didn’t handle that very well. We didn’t initiate contact, and when we did initiate it, we did so with our arms and got called for a lot of fouls. Unfortunately for us, that put them at the free-throw line a lot and they knocked those down.”
On Consistency: “A lot of it is about focus and concentration. We turned the ball over a number of times and we missed some shots as well. We can’t have both of those things happening at the same time. On top of that, we didn’t defend the way we did in our previous game.”
On Konieczny: “She was aggressive. We wanted her to take shots and we talked to her this week about how we’re going to be more successful with her scoring. She took more shots and knocked down quite a few of them. I’m really proud of her for what she did, now we just have to get better on the defensive end. We scored almost 70 points and lost. Regardless of how well she played, we still lost as a team, and I know she’s disappointed and so are we.”
The Crusaders will round out the longest homestand of the season on Friday at 7 p.m. CT as Loyola comes to the Athletics-Recreation Center. The Crusaders and Ramblers are conference foes once again after previously sharing Horizon League affiliation. The game can be seen on The Valley on ESPN3 with Scott Warmann (play-by-play) and Laura Leonard (color commentator) describing the action. The game can also be heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live video, audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.