Valparaiso (11-9, 3-6 MVC)
Game #21 - Thursday, February 6 - 6 p.m.
Evansville (3-17, 0-9 MVC)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valpo women’s basketball team starts off the second half of MVC play at the ARC Thursday evening as the Brown and Gold welcome Evansville to town. It will be the program’s Heart Health Game, as they encourage all fans to wear red to help raise awareness for women’s heart health. Tickets will be half-price, and fans are encouraged to donate the difference to benefit the American Heart Association.
Previously: Valpo put together a furious fourth-quarter rally Sunday afternoon against UNI in Cedar Falls, Iowa, coming back from down 16 with eight minutes to play to pull within three inside of two minutes remaining, but was unable to complete the comeback, as the Panthers came out 77-70 victors in the finale of the first half of the MVC slate. All five Valpo starters scored in double figures, with junior Caitlin Morrison also matching her career high with six blocked shots.
Following Valpo Basketball: Streaming Video: ESPN+
Radio: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso)
Live Stats/Streaming Audio: Available via ValpoAthletics.com
Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans (19-33) 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: Valpo and Evansville have met 17 times all-time, with Valpo owns a slight 9-8 edge in the series. Valpo holds a 4-1 advantage in the series since joining the MVC prior to the 2017-18 campaign, including a road win earlier this year at Evansville, 88-66, to snap the series tie. Valpo led from the start in that victory and was up by 13 points at the end of the first. As a team, Valpo racked up 21 steals - matching the most by a Valpo squad since 1995 - and connected on 14 3-pointers. Carie Weinman led three players in double figures with 19 points in the winning effort.
- 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.
- UNI closed the opening quarter with a 20-10 lead, but Valpo turned the tables to start the second quarter, reeling off a 13-2 run over the first six minutes of the period to go in front, 23-22.
- Following the run, the Brown and Gold went scoreless for more than three minutes and UNI scored seven straight points. The Panthers eventually took a 31-25 lead into halftime.
- UNI put together runs of 8-0 and 9-0 in the third quarter, the latter pushing its lead to 53-39 with one minute to go in the quarter. Valpo scored the final four points of the quarter to move within 10.
- The Panthers scored eight of the first 10 points of the fourth period to take their largest lead of the game at 61-45.
- Valpo scored on nine of 11 possessions over a stretch of five minutes to go on a 22-9 run and pull within 70-67 with 2:46 to play.
- Valpo went scoreless on its next two trips with a chance to potentially tie the game, however, and UNI’s Karli Rucker hit a 3-pointer with 1:17 to go to push the Panthers’ lead to six. Valpo would not score again until three seconds to play.
- Caitlin Morrison blocked three shots on one possession in the first quarter and added three more blocks to finish with six blocks, matching her career high set earlier this year against Chicago State. The six blocks again tie her for third-most in a single game in program history.
- All five Valpo starters scored in double figures, led by 19 points from Carie Weinman - just one off her season best.
- Valpo connected on double-digit 3-pointers for the 10th time this season with its third-best percentage from deep this year, going 10-for-21 (47.6%). The Crusaders were just 14-for-35 inside the arc, however.
- UNI also enjoyed strong shooting days from the 3-point line (13-of-30) and the free throw line (14-of-15). Valpo held a 22-13 advantage in points off turnovers, as it forced 17 Panther miscues, but UNI turned 15 offensive rebounds into 15 second-chance points.
- Valpo started Friday’s ballgame on fire from behind the 3-point line. After missing its first attempt from deep, four different players combined to connect on four consecutive triples. Sophomore Shay Frederick became the fifth Valpo starter to knock down a 3-pointer, connecting on a shot from deep with 4:02 to play in the opening quarter to give Valpo a 21-14 lead.
- The lead was still seven points with 1:11 to play in the first as junior Addison Stoller capped an 11-point first quarter with an inside basket, but Drake scored the final four points of the period to cut Valpo’s lead to 25-22 at the break.
- The Bulldogs scored the first basket of the second quarter to move within one before Valpo answered with seven straight points – including a 3-pointer from junior Caitlin Morrison – to earn its largest lead at 32-24 with 5:31 remaining in the first half.
- Drake went on a run into the locker room, out-scoring Valpo 17-2 to take a 41-34 lead into halftime.
- Grace Hales made a 3-pointer 2:30 into the second half to cut the Bulldogs’ advantage to six points, but that proved to be the Crusaders’ lone field goal in the third quarter as Drake led 63-41 with 10 minutes to play.
- The offense turned around in the fourth quarter, as Valpo went 8-of-13 from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line over the final 10 minutes to outscore the Bulldogs by one over that stretch.
- Hales scored her 1,000th career point on a driving layup from the left corner with 37.1 seconds to play.
- Hales led the way on Friday with 15 points, including three triples. She is now just two 3-pointers shy of cracking Valpo’s career top-10 chart in that category.
- Stoller finished the evening with 13 points, while Morrison rounded out a trio of Valpo players in double figures with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
- Valpo finished the night 9-of-27 from 3-point range after hitting five of its first six attempts from deep and shot just 37.3% (22-of-59) overall against the three-time defending MVC regular season champions.
- Valpo forced 24 Drake turnovers, the second-most turnovers the Bulldogs have committed in a single game this year. The Crusaders tallied nine steals, including a game-high four from Carie Weinman.
- Valpo led for a total of 15:36 on Friday after never enjoying an outright lead against Drake in the first six meetings since joining the MVC.
- Valpo closes out the weekend at home by welcoming Indiana State to the ARC Saturday afternoon.
- The Brown and Gold then take on central Illinois next weekend, starting with a Friday night game at Bradley.
...at the ARC
- Thursday will be Valpo’s 10th home game of the season, as it currently owns a 5-4 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, but is just 1-4 in MVC play to date at home, that one win coming last home game versus Loyola. All four conference home losses have been against top-80 RPI teams.
- 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.
- Evansville enters Thursday’s game at 3-17 overall this year and 0-9 in MVC play, falling last time out at Indiana State, 68-58.
- The Purple Aces are currently on a 10-game losing streak dating back to mid-December.
- Freshman Abby Feit leads the Purple Aces, averaging 14.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while also blocking 32 shots.
- Since becoming eligible, junior Lola Bracy has scored 12.6 points per game over 11 starts.
Taking Advantage of Charity
- Valpo was nearly perfect at the foul line over its two games last weekend in Iowa. - The Brown and Gold started out by going 13-of-14 at the stripe in their game at Drake, their lone miss coming midway through the fourth quarter.
- Valpo followed that up with a perfect 12-of-12 effort on free throws at UNI.
- The effort at UNI was the second-best 100% performance at the foul line in program history, trailing just a 14-of-14 effort against Milwaukee in January 2017.
- It was the fifth time overall Valpo has hit 100% of its free throws while attempting at least 10.
- As a team, Valpo enters this week’s games ranked sixth nationally with a 78.1% free throw percentage on the year.
Moving Up The Charts
- Senior Grace Hales became the 16th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point milestone for her career with a basket in the final minute Friday at Drake.
- Hales entered the game against the Bulldogs with 985 career points and led Valpo with 15 points, the last two of which gave her four figures for her career.
- Hales is just the fourth Valpo player since 2007 to hit the 1,000-point milestone.
- Hales went on to move up another spot on the program’s all-time scoring leaders on Sunday, as her 15 points at UNI gave her 1,015 for her career, tying her with Carrie Forsman for 15th position.
- Hales reached the mark thanks to her consistency, as she has played in all 114 Valpo games since she stepped on campus as a freshman. She has seen her scoring average go up year by year and is averaging a team-best 12.4 points/game this season.
- Hales also ranks among Valpo’s all-time best in a pair of shooting categories, as she sits second in free throw pct. (.861) and fifth in 3-point pct. (.366).
- In the MVC record book, which will only count years played in the Valley, Hales currently ranks fifth all-time in free throw pct. (163-of-186; .876).
Morrison Rises Up
- Junior Caitlin Morrison has stepped up her game within MVC play.
- Morrison scored in double figures just once in 11 non-conference games, but has posted 10+ points in five of Valpo’s nine MVC contests.
- Morrison set her career high with 13 points early in MVC play against Missouri State, and then broke that with a team-high 15 points versus Bradley.
- In the come-from-behind win against Loyola, Morrison poured in 13 points. She poured in double figures in both of Valpo’s outings in Iowa (10 at Drake; 12 at UNI) to give her four straight games with 10+ points.
- Also against UNI, Morrison tied her career high - set earlier this season - with six blocked shots, tied for third-most in a single game in program history.
- After scoring just 4.6 points/game in the non-conference slate, Morrison has more than doubled her scoring average since MVC play began, as she is currently scoring 9.8 points/game in conference action.
Gotta Hit the Twos
- So far this season, Valpo’s 2-point percentage has been a strong indicator of whether it will emerge victorious or not from any given ballgame.
- In 11 wins this year, Valpo is shooting at a 57.2% clip from inside the arc.
- Meanwhile, in its eight losses, Valpo is shooting just 40.1% from 2-point range.
- The difference has been even more pronounced in the first half of MVC play, as Valpo has hit 62.5% of its 2-point attempts in its three Valley wins versus maintaining its 40.1% clip over its six losses.
- Last time out against UNI, Valpo went just 14-for-35 (40%) from inside the 3-point line.
- Valpo has trotted out the same starting five through each of its first 19 games of the season: Shay Frederick, Carie Weinman, Grace Hales, Addison Stoller and Caitlin Morrison.
- Hales and Stoller were regular starters a season ago, while Frederick joined the starting lineup midway through last year. Morrison was a regular starter each of her first two years as well before missing last season due to injury.
- Within MVC play, the quintet has played 127:50 together and has out-scored the opposition 241-219 (75.4-68.5 per 40 minutes). That includes a 33-30 advantage in 17:58 of playing time together against Missouri State, and a 24-23 edge in 12:42 together at Drake.
- Valpo has never had a season where the same five players started every single game. The 2007-08, 1997-98 and 1983-84 Valpo squads had four players who started every game of the season.
- All five starters scored in double figures last time out at UNI, the first time that has happened for Valpo this season.
- One area in which Valpo has been consistent all year long has been coming up with steals on the defensive end.
- Valpo has recorded at least six steals in all but one game this season and is averaging an MVC-best 10.4 steals/game, good for 37th nationally.
- The team is currently on pace to finish with its highest single-season steals total in nearly two decades.
- Valpo took the thefts to another level in the win at Evansville.
- The Brown and Gold recorded 21 steals in the win over the Purple Aces, tied for the seventh-most in a single game in MVC history.
- 21 steals also is tied for 10th-most in a single game in program history and matches the most in a single game since 1995.
What A Rally
- The 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter against Loyola was Valpo’s largest final-quarter rally since the women’s game moved to four quarters.
- Ironically, the last time Valpo rallied from that kind of deficit within the game’s final 10 minutes came at Loyola on Feb. 17, 2011. The Crusaders trailed that day by 14 points with 8:45 to play (and later 8 points with 2:45 to play) and went on to a 72-68 victory.
- Valpo’s largest deficit in the win over the Ramblers was a 14-point deficit late in the third quarter, the largest deficit it has come at any point in a game to win since rallying from down 15 for a 67-59 win at Youngstown State on Jan. 12, 2013.
- It was the second rally of that type this year for Valpo, as in non-conference play against BGSU, it trailed by 12 in the fourth quarter and by 8 with 3:30 to play before coming back to force overtime and eventually win.
- While it didn’t result in a victory, Valpo enjoyed a similar fourth-quarter rally last time out at UNI, as after trailing by 16 in the fourth quarter, the Brown and Gold got to within three points late before succumbing.