The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team had a season-high five players score in double figures on Friday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center on their way to a 76-60 victory over Loyola. Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) led the way with 15 points, while Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) poured in 14 to move into second in program history in career scoring and become the second Valpo player to surpass 1,500 points.
How It Happened
- After Loyola (3-13, 1-4) scored the first basket of the game, a six-point Valpo run allowed the Crusaders (9-7, 2-3) to build up a 6-2 advantage. The Ramblers responded with a spurt of their own, mounting a 13-8 edge after a 3-pointer by Jessica Cerda at the 3:23 mark.
- Cerda drilled another 3 with 2:04 left in the first quarter to make it 16-12 Loyola, but the Crusaders scored the last five points of the period to own a 17-16 lead after one. Hales connected on a go-ahead triple with 15 seconds to go in the first quarter.
- The Ramblers outscored the Crusaders 17-15 in the second period while shooting 47 percent to Valpo’s 31. Kailyn Strawbridge hit a 3 with eight seconds left in the first half to put Loyola in front 33-32 at the break.
- Hales provided two memorable second-quarter plays. She turned an old-fashioned three-point play to give Valpo the lead two minutes into the quarter, then swished a modern, go-ahead 3-pointer a minute later.
- After Abby O’Connor scored the first four points of the second half, Loyola led by five at 37-32 with 8:58 to go in the third. That’s when the Crusaders went on an 11-0 run capped by a trey by Maya Meredith (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral) with 5:53 left in the third to put her team ahead 43-37.
- Back-to-back triples by Nicole Konieczny (Granger, Ind. / South Bend Saint Joseph) and Franklin allowed the Crusaders to pad the lead to double digits as they owned a 49-39 advantage with 3:04 left in the third. Loyola finally made a field goal at the 1:52 mark, ending a field-goal drought of nearly eight minutes in length.
- By the time the third quarter had concluded, Valpo owned a 55-42 edge after outscoring the Ramblers 23-9 in that stanza. The Crusaders made 54 percent of their shots in the quarter, holding Loyola to just 17 percent (2-of-12).
- Valpo coasted in the fourth, outscoring Loyola 21-18 to nail down the 76-60 win.
Inside the Game
- Franklin usurped Sarrah Stricklett (1,498) to move into second in program history in career scoring, behind only the legendary Debbie Bolen. The basket that allowed Franklin to leap over Stricklett also helped her become the second Crusader ever to rack up 1,500 career points.
- Blood turned in her second double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Her first came in the Nov. 16 season opener against IU Kokomo. It was Valpo’s third double-double of the season and first since Dani Franklin had 23 points and 11 boards on Dec. 10 against Chicago State.
- Hales led the Crusaders in scoring, the second time she’s paced the team in that area this season and first since Dec. 2 at Liberty. Coincidentally, it was also the first time Blood was the team’s leading rebounder since that Dec. 2 game against the Flames.
- As a team the Crusaders shot 41.5 percent, their best shooting percentage of the last six games. The 76 points also marked the team’s highest scoring output during that six-game stretch.
- Franklin was one board shy of her second double-double of the year, as she squeezed nine rebounds.
- Konieczny (12) and Meredith Hamlet (10) rounded out the quintet of Crusaders in double figures. This marked the first time five Crusaders finished with 10 points or more since a Horizon League Tournament game in March 2016 that resulted in an overtime victory over Detroit Mercy. The last time it occurred in a regulation game was Dec. 21, 2015, an 88-22 victory over IU Kokomo.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
On Dani Franklin’s Milestone: “I’m really happy for her and for our program. She’s been a staple here and stuck with it every step of the way. It hasn’t always been easy. She does everything she needs to do to be successful individually and to help our team win.”
On the Difference in the Second Half: “We played with a lot more passion and urgency on the defensive end. In the first half, we seemed a little bit on our heels. In the second half we stepped up, and a lot of that was due to the tone that Dani and Bryce set. We knocked down shots as well. I’m extremely proud of the way we switched ball screens, and our help-side defense was significantly improved in the second half. We also rebounded the ball better, and all of those factors helped lead to the victory.”
On Bryce Blood: “Bryce showed a lot more confidence; she didn’t get down on herself when she did miss a shot. It’s great to see that ability to maintain her composure. She did all of the little things we needed her to do. She always defends, and now she’s playing a lot better on the offensive side.”
On Going Forward: “We have to get healthy and make sure that everyone is doing what they need to do to get their shots up. We are going to put in a few new elements as we prepare for our upcoming opponents.”
The Crusaders will return to action on Friday, Jan. 19 for a showdown with Missouri State. The game is slated to tip at 7 p.m. CT and can be seen on The Valley on ESPN3, heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso and followed through live stats. Links to all the coverage will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.