The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team roared back from a 17-point second half deficit to pull as close as a single point, but visiting Illinois State held on for dear life to escape Northwest Indiana with a 70-67 victory. Valpo trailed by no more than four points over the final 9:40 of the fourth quarter, but never tied the game or took the lead. Senior Allison Schofield (McCordsville, Ind. / Heritage Christian) led the way with her best day in a Valpo uniform.
How It Happened
- The two teams went back and forth in the early going before Schofield hit a key 3 with 1:32 to go in the first quarter to tie the game at 13. The Redbirds finished the quarter with a narrow 15-14 edge.
- Illinois State made seven of its first 12 shots and went to work in the post, outscoring Valpo 12-2 in the paint in the first quarter.
- The Redbirds scored the first seven points of the second quarter to build the lead to eight at 22-14 at the 7:30 mark. Schofield got Valpo on the board in the second stanza with a 3 with 7:05 on the clock, but Illinois State used another spurt – this time an eight-point run – to make it 33-19 with 4:18 remaining in the second quarter.
- Valpo went into the half trailing 39-28. The second period saw Illinois State connect on eight of its 10 field goal attempts, while Valpo was held to 23 percent shooting. Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) hit double figures by the game’s midway mark with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, accounting for half of her team’s made field goals.
- A 6-0 run early in the third quarter allowed Illinois State to balloon the lead to 17 at 48-31 with 6:58 left in the third. Valpo quickly responded with a 13-0 run to pull within four. That spurt was capped by an Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill. / Montini) 3-pointer with 3:32 left in the third.
- Illinois State entered the fourth clinging to a 58-53 edge after Valpo won the third 25-19. Schofield scored 11 points in the third quarter alone while Hales knocked down all three of her shots and had seven points in that period. That helped Valpo shoot 67 percent including 6-of-7 from 3 in the third.
- The fourth was one of the most entertaining quarters of Valpo basketball this season. Schofield hit an early 3 to cut the lead to two, beginning a string of traded baskets that saw the lead bounce back and forth between two and four. Over the final 9:40 of the game, Valpo never trailed by more than four but was never even or ahead.
- Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis. / Hortonville) knocked in her first basket of the night at a critical time – a 3-pointer with 1:32 to go to shrink the Redbird lead to 68-67. However, neither team made a basket over the final 90 seconds and two Illinois State free throws with 1.9 seconds left wrapped up the scoring.
- Valpo had a pair of quality looks at the basket in the final 10 seconds with a chance to take the lead, but both tries rimmed out.
Inside the Game
- Schofield obliterated her previous career high of 16 points (Nov. 14, 2018 at Illinois) with a 22-point performance on Sunday. She drained six 3-pointers, becoming the first Valpo player to do so since Meredith Hamlet on Feb. 11, 2016 at Oakland.
- Hales matched a career best by reaching 21 points for the third time this season (vs. Eastern Illinois, vs. Evansville). Remarkably, Valpo had five different players score 20 points or more in a single game this weekend.
- Addison Stoller (Cissna Park, Ill. / Cissna Park) pulled down a team-high seven rebounds including three on the offensive glass, while Frederick dished out a game-high six assists.
- Illinois State’s Simone Goods led all scorers with 30 points on 12-of-15 shooting.
- Valpo has played back-to-back games decided by exactly three points.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mary Evans
“The message to our team is that we need to come out and play like we did in the second half from the start. Early in the third quarter, our players weren’t sure how they were going to respond, but they quickly decided to fight. Once they made that decision, they did a really nice job making plays defensively and executing offensively.”
“Five players having 20-point games this weekend speak volumes about our players and their willingness to share the basketball and understand that we’re better as a team when we can let the players play. Everybody is going to be game-planned for, so when it’s your night that they’re game-planning against you, someone else has to be able to step up. I love coaching like that rather than just having one player who can score. I knew throughout the game today that someone would step up and start making shots.”
“Allison and Grace did a nice job of attacking, being aggressive and exploiting their matchups. Illinois State did a good job of putting a guard on Addy, which made her struggle with her ability to drive, but once we figured out what we were doing, Allison and Grace stepped up in a big way.”
“Obviously, we’re not going to be bigger than any opponent for the remainder of the year, and maybe for the remainder of time, but I thought we did a better job working as a team in the second half and only giving up 16 points in the paint. Twenty-eight in the first half is way too many. If we could have had that same focus of swarming their post players in the first half, that would have gone a long way. We did a better job of doing that in the second half.”
“We’re going to get together tomorrow and watch the game and breakdown things we need to work on and things we did well. We do that every week; I love to show our players what they did well. There’s a lot of good in every game, win or loss, and there are a lot of mistakes in every game, win or loss. We’ll talk about those, and continue to work on us and what we do offensively and defensively.”
A stretch of four consecutive home games will continue on Friday evening as Valpo hosts Drake. Please note that the tip time is 5 p.m., two hours earlier than originally scheduled. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available.