One of the best defensive performances in program history propelled the Valpo women’s basketball team to its fourth consecutive win on Sunday afternoon at the ARC, as it took down visiting UIC by a 63-37 final. The four-game winning streak ties the program’s longest streak of consecutive victories since 2007.
How It Happened
- It was a bit of a slow start to the game for Valpo, and after Abreanna Lake connected on a jumper for UIC with 4:30 to play in the first quarter, the Flames led 8-7.
- Valpo claimed the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) 35 seconds later to start a 7-2 stretch to close the quarter, a span which included a 3-pointer from junior Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]), as Valpo led 14-10 at the end of the first.
- Frederick scored Valpo’s first five points of the second quarter, but those five points were all Valpo could muster for the first 4:30 of the period. UIC was still within five at 19-14 as the clock ticked toward the halfway mark of the quarter.
- Valpo would turn things around over the final five-plus minutes of the first half, however, ending the frame on a 16-3 run and holding UIC without a single field goal in that entire stretch. Sophomore Carie Weinman (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South [Denver]) got the offense going with five points over back-to-back possessions.
- Later in the quarter, it was senior Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind./Westview) who scored five points in a two-possession span, pushing Valpo’s lead out to 14 points at 31-17 with 2:03 to play in the half.
- Hales hit a pair of free throws with 40 seconds to go in the half, and then came up with a steal on the defensive end to give Valpo the last possession of the period. Junior Marlee Profitt (Medina, Ohio/Highland) scored on a put-back in the final second of the quarter to make it 35-17 Valpo at intermission.
- An 8-0 spurt in a two-minute stretch midway through the third quarter helped extend what was still an 18-point advantage to 26 at 48-22. Weinman connected on her second 3-pointer of the game to start the spurt, and Hales added a traditional 3-point play and then assisted on a fast-break basket by junior Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis./Rice Lake) during the stretch.
- UIC closed to within 51-30 at the end of the third, but Valpo limited the Flames to just 1-of-14 shooting from the floor in the fourth quarter to put away the victory.
Inside the Game
- Sunday’s win was Valpo’s fourth consecutive victory, the program’s first four-game winning streak since December of 2017.
- Valpo has won four straight games three times over the previous 12 seasons, but all three of those streaks included at least one non-Division I opponent.
- For Valpo’s last stretch of four straight wins over Division I opposition, you have to travel back to February/March 2006, when the Brown and Gold closed the regular season with five consecutive victories and then won their Mid-Con Tournament opener for six straight wins.
- The 37 points Valpo surrendered on Sunday afternoon were the seventh-fewest given up by a Valpo squad in a single game in program history.
- It was Valpo’s best defensive performance on the scoreboard since giving up just 32 points at Northern Kentucky on Feb. 11, 2016. It also marked Valpo’s fewest points allowed against a non-conference Division I opponent in program history.
- The Valpo defense forced 29 UIC turnovers on Sunday, the most by a Valpo opponent since the Crusaders forced Wright State into 31 miscues on Jan. 8, 2009.
- 18 of the 29 UIC turnovers were steals by Valpo defenders, matching the most steals by a Valpo team since the Brown and Gold came up with 19 against St. Xavier on Nov. 28, 2004. Valpo had two other 18-steal efforts since, most recently against Detroit on Jan. 23, 2014.
- Nine of Valpo’s 12 players Sunday came up with at least one steal, led by a career-high five thefts from sophomore Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic) in just 11 minutes of action. The five steals were a Valpo season high by a single player as well.
- Senior Maya Meredith (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) came up with three steals in 10 minutes off the bench to set a career best as well.
- Valpo held the Flames to just 26.7% shooting from the floor, including an 0-for-7 mark from beyond the 3-point line.
- It was the second time this season a Valpo opponent has failed to make a 3-pointer, as North Dakota State went 0-for-14 from deep in the Crusaders’ win in Fargo in November. Prior to this year, the last time a Valpo opponent went scoreless from 3-point range was FIU in November of 2013.
- The 26-point margin of victory was Valpo’s largest against a Division I opponent in non-conference play since a 34-point win over Butler on Nov. 14, 2014.
- Valpo has won back-to-back games by 19-plus points, going back to its Dec. 5 win at Detroit Mercy. The last time the Brown and Gold enjoyed consecutive wins by at least 19 points came back in January of 2006, when they downed Centenary by 19 and Oral Roberts by 27.
- Sunday’s victory also continues the revenge tour for this year’s team. Valpo flipped a 10-point loss at UIC into a 26-point victory this season, a 36-point swing. The Crusaders have faced five teams this year that they lost to last season and are 4-1 in those contests this year.
- Frederick led Valpo in scoring for the second time this year as she finished with a game-high 15 points, 12 of which came in the opening 20 minutes. The sophomore connected on three 3-pointers among her five made baskets.
- Hales added 13 points as well in the winning effort.
- Juniors Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) and Addison Stoller (Cissna Park, Ill./Cissna Park) led the Valpo effort on the glass with six rebounds apiece, while Profitt and freshman Cara VanKempen (Coopersville, Mich./Coopersville) added five boards each.
- Weinman dished out a game-high four assists while not committing a turnover in her 24 minutes of play to go with eight points.
Thoughts From Coach Evans
“I think we had to be more aggressive offensively, and once we were, good things happened. In the first quarter, what we wanted to do would have worked, but we just were being passive. In the second quarter, we switched a few things around, but overall, the players just got more aggressive - they were attacking the rim, making better cuts, and shooting the ball with more confidence.”
“UIC runs a dribble drive on offense, and so we switch a lot of that, and I thought we did a really good job guarding it most of the night. We had some instances where we were getting beat on backdoor cuts, but we were able to get that cleaned up. We really talked about shrinking the floor and protecting our paint, and we did that well, forcing them to have to make an extra pass. We flew around on defense, went after their passes, and were more aggressive going after the basketball.”
“Morehead State brings in a similar offensive style, but we're going to have to be better to beat them on Tuesday. We'll get in the gym tomorrow - not so much from a physical standpoint, but we have to be better mentally and with our focus, ready to play a full 40 minutes of basketball.”
Valpo (5-3) looks for a fifth straight win on Tuesday night at the ARC in its final game before Christmas, hosting Morehead State. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m., and all the action can be seen live on ESPN+.