The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team had five players in double figures on Thursday night at Renaissance Coliseum in Peoria as the team led for 24 minutes, 58 seconds against Bradley. However, the host Braves went on a late run after two Valpo players fouled out and pulled away for an 87-76 victory.
How It Happened
- The game was tied five times during a back-and-forth, high-scoring opening quarter that ended with Valpo leading 24-23.
- The opening quarter saw Gabi Haack score 11 Bradley points, while Valpo’s scoring was spread out among six players. The two teams combined to go 17-of-17 at the free-throw line in the first period.
- Valpo’s lead peaked midway through the second quarter after a 6-0 run expanded the cushion to nine on a 3-pointer by Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) that made it 38-29 with 6:02 remaining.
- The lead was seven with 1:22 left in the half, but Bradley used a late-half push to whittle it down to three with Valpo clinging to a 47-44 lead at the break.
- Bradley was 1-of-5 from 3-point range but 8-of-12 from inside the arc in the second quarter. Lasha Petree scored 10 points in the second quarter alone, while Valpo received nine from Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain), who finished the first half a perfect 4-of-4 from the field.
- A triple by Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis. / Hortonville) opened the lead back up to seven with 7:16 left in the third, but Bradley scored eight straight points to take a 54-53 lead by the 5:34 mark. Valpo went back up 58-54, but the Braves scored 10 in a row to claim a 64-58 edge with 54 seconds to go in the third.
- Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis. / Rice Lake) blew by a defender on the final possession of the third to help Valpo pull back within two points.
- The game saw its ninth tie at 70 all in the fourth, but Bradley closed the game on a 17-6 spurt. Valpo ran out of steam after two foul outs left the visitors shorthanded down the stretch.
- The Braves (19-7, 9-6) scored the final eight points of the game to push the lead from three to 11 over the final three minutes.
Inside the Game
- Valpo had five players in double figures, led by Hales’ 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting. This marked the first time this season Valpo had five crack double figures. The last time Valpo accomplished that feat was Jan. 26, 2018, when six players were in double figures in a 101-59 victory over Evansville.
- Frederick filled the stat sheet with 15 points to go along with team highs in assists (four) and steals (two). It was Frederick’s top scoring output since her career-high 21 in the first meeting with Bradley.
- Stoller and Allison Schofield (McCordsville, Ind. / Heritage Christian) also finished in double figures with 11 points apiece. It was Stoller’s seventh straight game in double figures and 10th in the last 11.
- Valpo shot 81 percent from the free-throw stripe, where the team went 17-of-21. However, Bradley went 27-of-31 (87 percent) at the line, the most made free throws by a Valpo opponent all season. In fact, this was the most made free throws by a Valpo opponent since Montana State made 28 against Valpo on Dec. 1, 2013.
- Valpo made 13 3-pointers, the 10th time this season the team has made 10+ 3s. In addition, the 13 3s allowed Valpo to increase its season total to 243, cracking the Top 15 in the history of the Missouri Valley Conference for made 3s in a season.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mary Evans
“It is hard when we had two players foul out and that puts us down to six people, but I’m not going to use that as an excuse. We’ve got to find a way to finish games. We played with tremendous effort tonight, but we‘ve got to clean up mental mistakes. Offensively, we took some quick shots instead of running the offense when we had the lead. We’ve got to learn how to play with a lead. This was a really good effort by our young ladies, and I’m proud of the way they played and fought tonight.”
“We had five players in double figures, so it was a very balanced effort. We shot well from the free-throw line and made 13 3s again. However, 17 turnovers is too many. We had some critical turnovers late in the game. We have to work on breaking the press. Those are things we can fix and we’ll do that moving forward.”
“Bradley’s top three players are tough to guard. Haack and Petree can shoot lights out from 3, so you’ve got to get up and guard them and prevent them from getting 3s, but tonight they hit mid-range shots and got the rim. When we got out there, that freed up Brackmann to get her points. We’re going to spend a lot of time in the offseason on shoring up our defense. We wanted to get our offense where it needed to be, but we’ll be better at those things defensively moving forward.”
“We’ll get in and look at film from tonight. Illinois State has a strong post player in Simone Goods that we need to slow down. We’ll spend quite a bit of time looking at how this game translates into that and showing our players what we need to fix. We’re going to practice on Friday and get ready for Illinois State. This is about being fresh late in the season. We were the fresher team for three quarters tonight, but we ran out of steam in the fourth.”
Valpo (6-22, 2-14) will next be in action on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Normal, Ill. for the final road game of the year at Illinois State. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and links to live video, audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.