Freshman Bryce Blood (Toledo, Ohio / Whitmer) led the way for the Valparaiso University women’s basketball team on Thursday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center, pacing the squad in both scoring and rebounding in a 76-53 loss to visiting UNI. The Panthers started strong, outscoring the Crusaders 24-9 in the opening quarter before coasting to the victory.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (12-16, 5-12) trailed by just four at 11-7 with 5:06 left in the first quarter after a pair of free throws by Blood. The Panthers (16-12, 12-5) embarked on a 10-0 run to boost the lead to 14 at 21-7 with 36 seconds to go in the quarter.
- Valpo went on a 5-0 run early to tie the game at five after Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) drilled a triple with 7:25 left in the first quarter, but that would mark Valpo’s final made basket of the first period. The first quarter ended with UNI leading 24-9.
- The Crusaders wouldn’t find the hole again until Hamlet’s jumper with 7:35 left in the first half made it 24-11. Valpo played an improved second quarter over the first five minutes, but the Panthers pushed what was an 11-point lead midway through the second to 20 by halftime.
- Valpo shot just 25 percent in the first half, while the Panthers shot 38.9. Rebounding was a bright spot, as the Crusaders led the battle on the boards 22-21, with Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis. / Rice Lake) leading the team with four at the break.
- The third quarter saw the Panthers continue to pour it on, as another Valpo scoring drought allowed UNI to build up a 33-point lead with 2:02 to go in the third, its largest edge of the day. UNI won the third 23-12 as the Crusaders shot just 25 percent, 3-of-12. Senior Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) accounted for seven of Valpo’s 12 third-quarter points.
- Blood scored seven of her team-high 11 points in the fourth, a quarter that saw the Crusaders outscore the Panthers 22-14. Blood also corralled four boards in the final quarter of play, finishing the game with a team-high eight rebounds.
Inside the Game
- Blood led the Crusaders in rebounding for the fourth time this season and the first time since Jan. 12, when she pulled down 10 boards against Loyola. She led the team in scoring for the first time in her collegiate career.
- Blood became the first Valpo player other than Dani Franklin to lead the Crusaders in both scoring and rebounding in the same game this year.
- Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) reached double figures for the second consecutive game, turning in 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting.
- Franklin played in her 118th career game, moving into a tie for sixth in program history with Launa Honchstetler.
- Franklin climbed into the Top 10 in program history in single-season scoring for the second straight year with her nine points on Thursday. She bumped Agnieszka Kulaga’s 2007-08 season (437) out of the Top 10, as Franklin now has 438 points this year.
- With Thursday’s results, Valpo is locked into the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game in the first round of the MVC Tournament in Moline, Ill. Valpo will play either Bradley or Loyola on Thursday, March 8 at 4 p.m. CT, the first game of Hoops in the Heartland.
- Megan Maahs turned in a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds for UNI, while Kennedy Kirkpatrick led all scorers with 15.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
On the First Quarter: “We didn’t get back in transition. We didn’t talk and match up and find their shooters. They shoot the ball extremely well, and once they started to get on a roll, they gained a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence, and we couldn’t take them out of that rhythm.”
On UNI: “They play so well together. They play like a veteran team and they’re used to winning. We couldn’t get them out of their rhythm at all. We tried to zone, man and trap. We had a couple possessions that did go our way, but we couldn’t capitalize on them. We struggled to score and they defend extremely well. They’re super physical and they rebound well. I thought we rebounded better this game than we did the first time, but we didn’t put the ball in the hole the way we needed to in order to beat a good team.”
On Blood: “She rebounded extremely well. She pursued the ball out of her area. She blocked out well and defended well. She is the only player that was able to defend (Megan Maahs). I give UNI credit, they did a good job getting the ball inside. Bryce stepped up and did what she needed to do. Unfortunately, we didn’t do what we needed to do collectively as a team.”
The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team will honor a pair of seniors at Saturday’s regular season finale. Two four-year players who have both served as captains and leaders during their time with the program, Georgi Donchetz and Dani Franklin, will be recognized before they take the court at the Athletics-Recreation Center for the final time. The game against Missouri Valley Conference regular season champion Drake begins at 3 p.m. and can be seen on The Valley on ESPN3, heard on WVUR and followed via live stats.