The positive outcomes weren’t there, but the Valparaiso University women’s basketball team showed it could play with two of the top teams in the Missouri Valley Conference this weekend. After taking Southern Illinois to double overtime on Friday, Valpo once again narrowly came up short, falling 66-60 to Missouri State on Sunday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (11-14, 4-10 MVC) set the tone on their first offensive possession, racking up four offensive rebounds before Bryce Blood (Toledo, Ohio / Whitmer) finally finished for her team’s first basket of the game.
- Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) drilled a fast-break 3-pointer with 2:11 left in the first quarter, putting Valpo ahead 14-11. Hamlet laid one in for the final basket of the quarter, once again placing Valpo on top, 16-15.
- The opening quarter saw Valpo outrebound Missouri State 12-8 including a 7-2 edge on the offensive glass.
- The two teams went back and forth during the second quarter, a period that ended with the sixth tie of the game at 32-32. Neither team led by more than five points at any juncture in the second. Hamlet scored half of Valpo’s second-quarter points with eight on 4-of-7 shooting.
- The third quarter was another low-scoring one, as each team posted 13 points. Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) accounted for seven points and four rebounds in that quarter alone. Missouri State (16-10, 12-3) owned a 40-32 lead two minutes into the third, but Valpo went on an 11-3 run to tie it at 43. By the time the third came to a close, the two teams were even at 45.
- After consecutive layups by Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis. / Rice Lake) opened the fourth-quarter scoring, Missouri State went on a 9-0 run to turn a four-point Valpo lead into a five-point deficit.
- The Crusaders trailed 60-52 with 3:28 left, but climbed back to within two thanks to a 6-0 spurt. Missouri State got key stops down the final stretch, eventually holding on for a 66-60 win.
Inside the Game
- Hamlet poured in 20 points to lead three Crusaders in double figures. Franklin enjoyed a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Ellenson chipped in 10 points in only 11 minutes off the bench.
- Franklin’s double-double was her fourth of the season and the team’s sixth.
- Ellenson posted her third double-figure scoring output of the season and first since a career-high 13 on Jan. 26 vs. Evansville.
- Valpo pulled down 21 offensive rebounds, matching a season high also reached on Jan. 26 vs. Evansville.
- The Bears were picked to finish second in The Valley and are currently in second place in the league standings. Sunday’s game was a significant improvement from the first meeting between the two teams, when Missouri State won 83-60.
- The Crusaders limited Liza Fruendt, the MVC’s leading scorer and Preseason Player of the Year, to 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Fruendt scored only three points in the first half.
Thoughts From Head Coach Tracey Dorow
Thoughts on the Game: “We’re playing better as a team. In the first three quarters, we took care of the basketball and had numerous shot attempts. We were putting the ball in the hole. We didn’t get as many shot attempts in the second half as we did in the first. We need more possessions; that’s just how we play. I give Missouri State credit; they did a nice job adjusting their defenses and executing down the stretch.”
On Fruendt: “In the first half, we did a tremendous job of knowing where she was at all times. We had our hands up almost all the time. We came out in the second half determined to continue that, but she knocked some down with us right in her face, and then there were some other ones where we weren’t where we needed to be. She put them on her shoulders, but also some of their other kids stepped up and made plays, and they got some timely steals.”
On Rebounding: “I thought we rebounded extremely well. We stepped back and blocked out. We were physical. At their place, the one quarter we weren’t physical, they took it to us. We wanted to make sure we set the tone early, and I’m sure our captains talked about that in the locker room and had a lot to do with that.”
On what needs to happen to start winning the close ones: “We need everybody to step up and play well. Ella had a great game today, and Dani was Dani; she’s always solid. We had a couple kids who didn’t shoot the ball as well as they normally do, and then we had some untimely turnovers. We’re one or two possessions away from winning this game, and unfortunately we didn’t make that happen. We need everybody to play well. When everyone is playing well, we’re going to be really hard to beat.”
The Crusaders will return to the road as they head to Indiana State on Friday night for a game that begins at 6 p.m. CT in Terre Haute. The instate showdown will air on The Valley on ESPN3 as Valpo seeks to avenge its defeat from earlier this season. The game can also be heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso with Ben Ariano (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (color commentary).