Valparaiso (8-4, 0-1 MVC)
Game #13 - Sunday, January 5 - 1 p.m.
#21/19 Missouri State (11-2, 1-0 MVC)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valpo women’s basketball team closes out the first weekend of MVC play on Sunday afternoon with its sternest home test based on rankings in over four years, as the Brown and Gold welcome #21/19 Missouri State to the ARC.
Previously: Valpo saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end on Friday evening as it opened Missouri Valley Conference play, falling to a strong Southern Illinois squad by a 67-51 final at the ARC. The Brown and Gold shot 77.8% from the floor in the opening quarter as they were within three points at the end of one period, but shot just 20.5% from the field over the final three quarters.
Following Valpo Basketball: Streaming Video: ESPN3
Radio: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso)
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Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans (16-28) is in her second season as head coach of the Valpo women’s basketball program in 2019-20. Evans’ impact on the program was immediately clear in her first year, as Valpo shattered its previous program record of 224 made 3-pointers in a single season by knocking down 276 trifectas - a mark which ranks seventh in MVC history. Valpo ranked among the top-25 nationally in both total 3-pointers and 3-pointers per game in Evans’ first season at the helm of the Valpo program.
Series Notes: For the second straight matchup, Valpo finds itself facing an opponent it never matched up with prior to moving to the Missouri Valley Conference. Missouri State has earned victories in all four meetings since Valpo joined the MVC, winning last season 108-63 in Springfield and 77-58 at the ARC. Addison Stoller averaged 17 points/game on 54.5% shooting over last season’s two matchups, while Grace Hales was 5-for-8 from 3-point range against the Bears last season, averaging 12 points/game.
- Valpo has been selected to finish in eighth place in the MVC preseason poll, totaling 126 points.
- Valpo is in its third season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2019-20.
...looking back at last year
- Valpo posted an 8-24 record last season in head coach Mary Evans’ first year at the helm and went 3-15 in MVC play.
- Last year’s Valpo squad was ravaged by injuries, many times dressing just nine scholarship players.
- Valpo shattered its program record for 3-pointers in a season in 2018-19, knocking down 276 triples to race past the previous record of 224.
- Valpo also moved into seventh place in a single season in MVC history in 3-pointers made.
- Shay Frederick was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team, while Meredith Hamlet was an Honorable Mention MVC Scholar-Athlete.
...versus Southern Illinois
- Both squads were hitting from everywhere to start the game, as Valpo went 7-of-9 from the field – including 3-of-3 from 3-point range – in the opening quarter and Southern Illinois went 8-of-13. SIU held a 22-19 lead at the end of one.
- Junior Grace White scored the first five points over the opening 2:40 of the second quarter to give Valpo its first outright lead, 24-22.
- Southern Illinois reclaimed the lead before a steal and fast-break layup from sophomore Carie Weinman tied things up at 29-29 with four minutes to play in the first half.
- SIU out-scored Valpo 11-4 over the final stretch of the period to go into halftime with a 40-33 lead.
- The third quarter was the antithesis of the first, as the two teams combined for just three made field goals. Valpo went without a basket from the field for the final seven minutes of the quarter, and the Salukis held a 51-42 advantage with 10 minutes to play.
- A 3-pointer by junior Caitlin Morrison cut SIU’s lead to 51-45 with 9:03 to play in the game, but that was as close as Valpo would get, as the Salukis scored 10 of the next 12 points over a span of 2:40 to pull away.
- The loss came against a Southern Illinois team which came into the day ranked in the top-75 in the nation in RPI and jumped into the top-60 with the win. Three of Valpo’s four defeats this year have come against top-60 teams in the RPI.
- Valpo ended the night shooting just 31.3% from the floor, and the offensive output was a tale of two halves. The Brown and Gold went into halftime having shot 50% in the first half, including a 5-of-9 mark from the 3-point line, but then were just 4-of-26 (15.4%) from the field in the second half.
- Junior Addison Stoller led Valpo with 13 points Friday and also set a season high with four steals. Stoller led the way as the Crusaders tallied 12 steals, the fifth time in the last six games they have registered at least 10 thefts.
- Valpo was out-rebounded 46-26 by the Salukis on Friday, including 18 SIU offensive rebounds.
...at Eastern Illinois
- Valpo went on an 8-0 run to end the first quarter with a 19-10 lead, capped by an 18-footer as time expired from Grace White.
- EIU looked like it had cut its deficit back down to nine at halftime as it scored off a turnover in the waning seconds of the half, but Shay Frederick had other ideas, rushing the ball forward and unloading a 35-footer just before the buzzer that found the basket to make it 44-32 Valpo at intermission.
- The first six minutes of the third quarter were not kind to Valpo, as Eastern Illinois went on a 15-3 run over that span to tie the game at 47 apiece. The Brown and Gold were 0-for-7 from the floor and committed three turnovers in that stretch.
- But the final four minutes of the quarter proved to be the antithesis of the first six and would propel Valpo to victory. The Crusaders had six possessions in the final four minutes and went 5-for-5 from 3-point range with a turnover on those trips down the court. Ilysse Pitts got the party started with a triple, and then Grace Hales and junior Addison Stoller alternated the final four 3-pointers of the period – Stoller connecting on the last one in the final seconds of the quarter.
- Meanwhile, while the offense couldn’t miss, the defense kept EIU completely off the board as well, as Valpo ended the period on a 15-0 run to take a 62-47 lead into the fourth. The run eventually extended to 21-0, as Valpo held EIU without a point for a stretch of 8:18 spanning the third and fourth quarters.
- Hales led the way for Valpo with a career-best 25 points, while White finished with a season-high 20 points and career highs of 10 rebounds and seven assists.
- Valpo enjoyed its most prolific night from the 3-point line of the season to date, knocking down 13 triples and connecting at a 40.6% clip (13-of-32) from downtown. The Crusaders also continued their strong season at the foul line, going 15-of-17 from the charity stripe.
- While Valpo’s defense forced just nine EIU turnovers, an aberration from the recent stretch where it had tallied 10 or more steals in four straight games, the Brown and Gold limited the Panthers to just 38.1% shooting from the floor.
- Valpo also ended the night with a 40-31 advantage on the glass – the first time this season Valpo has out-rebounded its opponent.
- Valpo hits the road for the first time in MVC play next weekend, making the Indiana road swing to Indiana State and Evansville. Valpo will play the Sycamores Friday night and the Purple Aces Sunday afternoon.
...at the ARC
- Sunday will be Valpo’s sixth home game of the season, as it currently owns a 4-1 record at home this year.
- Valpo swept all four of its non-conference home games, with wins over Bowling Green, UIC, Morehead State and Chicago State.
- Valpo went 4-11 at the ARC last year in Mary Evans’ first season at the helm of the program.
- Valpo was just 1-5 last season at home in non-conference action before earning a trio of home wins during MVC play.
- Missouri State enters Sunday’s game at 11-2 overall, including a thrilling overtime win at Loyola in its MVC opener Friday afternoon.
- Both of the Bears’ losses this year have come on the road at top-20 teams.
- MSU, which advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last year, is currently ranked 21st in the AP poll and 19th in the Coaches poll and is also second nationally in RPI.
- Three Bears score in double figures for a team which averages 77.3 points per game, led by 17.4 ppg from Alexa Willard. Jasmine Franklin nearly averages a double-double, posting 11.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
- Missouri State is one of the nation’s top 3-point shooting teams, coming in at 41.5% from deep this year, while Valpo is limiting opponents to 24.5% shooting from 3-point range, 15th nationally.
Streak Comes to a Close
- Friday’s loss snapped Valpo’s seven-game winning streak, just the seventh-such winning streak in program history and the first since 2002.
- It was the team’s first loss since Nov. 21, a span of 43 days. Along the way, Valpo posted a perfect 5-0 record in December - just the third perfect month in program history.
- The defeat was also the Crusaders’ first of the season at the ARC after going 4-0 at home in non-conference play.
- This year’s squad just missed matching the 1991-92 team for the most wins before suffering its fourth loss of the season - the 1991-92 team started 9-3 before dropping its fourth game.
Facing Ranked Foes
- Sunday’s game will be Valpo’s first of the season against a nationally-ranked team.
- Non-conference opponent Northwestern is currently receiving votes in both national polls, but was not at the time of the matchup.
- Valpo last faced a nationally-ranked opponent in last season’s MVC quarterfinal, as Drake came into that game at #21/21.
- The last home game against a nationally-ranked team came on Nov. 23, 2015, when #3/3 Notre Dame paid a visit to the ARC.
- The last time Valpo played a conference home game against a nationally-ranked squad was a matchup versus #12/9 Green Bay on Jan. 28, 2012.
- In all, this is Valpo’s 44th meeting all-time against a nationally-ranked opponent - its lone win in those games came at the ARC on Dec. 10, 2008, a 71-60 victory over #21/23 Purdue.
The Valley Runs Deep
- Friday’s MVC opener against Southern Illinois was a harbinger of things to come in terms of strength of opposition within conference play.
- The Salukis entered the game in the top-70 in the nation in RPI and came out at 59th nationally - one of five MVC programs currently in the top-75.
- The MVC currently ranks seventh nationally in conference RPI, which would beat by one spot the conference’s best-ever finish in the metric.
- Eight of the Valley’s 10 teams entered conference play with at least eight non-conference wins.
- Valpo is trying to avoid starting at 0-2 in MVC play for the third straight year - the 2018-19 team lost its first four before picking up its first win, while the 2017-18 squad won for the first time in its third Valley game.
Best Pre-Conference Mark
- With its win Monday at Eastern Illinois, Valpo closed pre-conference play with an 8-3 record, setting a new program standard for the best winning percentage before the start of conference action.
- The aforementioned 2001-02 team also held the previous best winning percentage in pre-conference play, going 9-4 before opening Mid-Continent Conference action.
- One area in which Valpo continued to excel on Friday was the steals column, as Valpo had 12 steals against SIU - led by four from Addison Stoller and three from Carie Weinman.
- Valpo has racked up double-digit steal totals in six games this year, including five of its last six contests.
- The Crusaders are averaging 10.1 steals/game this year, a mark which puts them on pace to enjoy the highest single-season steals total the program has had in nearly two decades.
- The play of Grace Hales and Grace White led the way for Valpo in its win on Monday at Eastern Illinois.
- Hales started the night strong, scoring seven points in the first quarter and 15 in the first half en route to a career-high 25 points, surpassing her previous best of 21, which she had done four times.
- Hales ended the night with four 3-pointers and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the foul line, and tallied six rebounds as well.
- Meanwhile, White scored a season-best 20 points, including knocking down each of her first four 3-point attempts.
- Beyond that, White secured a career-high 10 rebounds and set a career best with seven assists, both of which led all players, and added two steals and two blocked shots as well.
- White’s double-double was the first by a Valpo player since Addison Stoller recorded 15 points and 10 boards in last year’s MVC Tournament quarterfinal against Drake.
- White was the first Valpo player to record at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in a game since Agnieszka Kulaga posted 20 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in an overtime win over Green Bay in January 2008.
Taking Advantage of Charity
- Valpo has been stellar at the foul line all season long, and continued its success at the stripe in the win at EIU, going 15-for-17 (88.2%).
- Valpo has hit at 75% or better from the line eight times this year, including seven of the last eight games, and has been above 80% four times.
- Valpo ranks 23rd nationally, hitting at a 76.6% clip from the foul line this year, and ranks 28th in percentage of points from free throws.
- Grace Hales has been nearly automatic from the line this year, going 33-of-36 (91.7%) from the stripe.
- At EIU, Hales surpassed Valpo’s minimum number of attempts for its career free throw percentage chart and currently ranks second in program history (85.8%).
Defense Stands Out
- Valpo’s defense led the way for much of its seven-game winning streak.
- By limiting Chicago State to 49 points last Saturday, Valpo had a stretch of five straight games where its opponents scored fewer than 60 points.
- Valpo’s late-season winning streak in 2007 was the last time the defense was that stifling for five consecutive games.
- The 37 points Valpo surrendered to UIC 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 in that win, the most by a Valpo opponent since the Crusaders forced Wright State into 31 miscues on Jan. 8, 2009.
- Valpo forced 20 or more turnovers six times in the season’s first 10 games, including four straight (25 at UDM, 29 vs. UIC, 22 vs. MSU, 23 vs. CSU). The last time Valpo forced 20+ turnovers in four straight games came Jan. 19-31, 2004.
- Chicago State was 0-for-8 from 3-point range, the third Valpo opponent this year to go scoreless from the 3-point line (NDSU 0-for-14; UIC 0-for-7). Prior to this year, the last time a Valpo opponent went scoreless from 3-point range was FIU in November of 2013.