Valparaiso (15-10, 7-7 MVC)
Game #26 - Friday, February 28 - 6 p.m.
UNI (16-10, 8-7 MVC)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The stakes seem to rise with every subsequent game down the stretch of MVC play for the Valpo women’s basketball team, and that’s the case again Friday night, as Valpo hosts UNI at the ARC. The Brown and Gold are one of four teams currently separated by one-half game in the Valley standings, with the Panthers one of the other teams in that mix. Friday’s game is the program’s annual Pink Game in honor of cancer awareness.
Previously: It wasn’t quite as dramatic as the first meeting of the season between the two programs, but the result was the same on Saturday as the Valpo women’s basketball team fell behind by double figures in the first half at Loyola before rallying for a 70-57 win over the Ramblers to complete the season sweep. Sophomore Carie Weinman led the way in the win, scoring 17 of her season-best 21 points in the second half.
Following Valpo Basketball: Streaming Video: ESPN+
Radio: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso)
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Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans (23-34) 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: UNI owns a 7-2 advantage in the all-time series over Valpo, and the Panthers have claimed all five meetings since Valpo joined the MVC prior to the 2017-18 season. Earlier this year, Valpo trailed by 16 in the fourth quarter before rallying to within three, but could not complete the comeback, falling to UNI 77-70 in Cedar Falls. All five Valpo starters finished in double figures in the scoring column, led by 19 points from Carie Weinman.
- 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 moved into seventh place in a single season in MVC history in 3PTM.
- Shay Frederick was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team, while Meredith Hamlet was an Honorable Mention MVC Scholar-Athlete.
- Despite opening the game with a scoreless drought of over six minutes, Valpo trailed the Ramblers just 13-6 at the end of the first.
- Loyola extended its lead out to its peak of 11 points at 26-15 with 6:08 to play in the first half.
- Valpo out-scored Loyola 12-6 over the final six minutes of the half to close to within 32-27 at intermission.
- Loyola connected on a 3-pointer on its first possession of the second half, but that proved to be the Ramblers’ last points for over five minutes, as Loyola went 0-for-6 with three turnovers in that stretch.
- Meanwhile, Valpo scored eight straight on the offensive end, capped by an inside basket from Grace White, to tie the game at 35-35 with 4:45 to play in the period – the first tie since 0-0.
- Loyola pulled back out to a four-point lead before 3-pointers on consecutive trips in the final two minutes from Carie Weinman and Grace Hales gave Valpo its first lead of the game at 42-40 – a lead it would carry into the fourth quarter.
- Loyola tied the score twice in the opening minutes of the fourth period, but both times Valpo came right back with points of its own to prevent the Ramblers from taking an outright lead.
- The Ramblers tied the game at 44-44 on a pair of free throws with 8:06 to play, but again Valpo’s defense stepped up, keeping Loyola off the scoreboard for the next four-plus minutes.
- The scoreless stretch coincided with nine straight points on the offensive end, including a big 3-pointer from Caitlin Morrison with 7:28 remaining to gain separation on the scoreboard.
- Weinman led Valpo’s offensive effort with 21 points to surpass her previous season best of 20 at Toledo. The sophomore scored 17 of her points in the second half alone to help complete the comeback.
- Addison Stoller joined Weinman in double figures, finishing with 14 points to go with five rebounds.
...at Illinois State
- The first 10 minutes were sparked by Valpo’s team defense and the offense of Addison Stoller. The defense limited Illinois State to just nine points, as the Redbirds shot 2-of-10 from the field and committed seven turnovers.
- Meanwhile, on the offensive end, Stoller outscored Illinois State by herself, going 5-of-6 from the field for 13 points as Valpo led the Redbirds 18-9 at the end of one.
- Valpo led by as many as 15 in the second quarter and carried a 35-25 lead into halftime.
- The story of the third quarter was Valpo finding a way to overcome foul trouble. The Brown and Gold were whistled for 10 fouls in the period which sent the Redbirds to the foul line 18 times, where they converted 15 of 18. By the end of the period, three Valpo starters were saddled with four fouls and another had three.
- Despite the number of free throws for Illinois State, Valpo was able to do enough offensively – led once again by Stoller – to only lose the period by two points, 24-22, and head into the fourth quarter leading 57-49. Stoller posted 10 points and five rebounds in the third quarter alone to lead the way.
- The Redbirds closed to within four points at 68-64 with 3:22 to play, as close as they had been since the middle stages of the first quarter. Illinois State had two chances on offense to make it a one-possession game, but missed both attempts, and a nice pass from Marlee Profitt to Caitlin Morrison for a basket with the shot clock about to expire gave Valpo a 70-64 lead with 2:05 to play. Illinois State would get no closer the rest of the way.
- Stoller had a career game to lead the way in the victory, finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. The 25 points is a career high for the junior, who finished the game 9-of-13 from the floor, 3-of-4 from the 3-point line, and 4-of-4 at the foul line.
- Grace Hales and Shay Frederick added 14 points apiece. Hales was 3-for-4 from long range and a perfect 5-for-5 at the foul line to improve to 59-for-63 at the charity stripe this year.
- Valpo closes out the 2019-20 home slate with Senior Day on Sunday as it welcomes visiting Drake to the ARC.
- The regular season then concludes with the Missouri State/Southern Illinois road swing the following weekend.
...at the ARC
- Saturday will be Valpo’s 12th home game of the season, as it currently owns a 7-4 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.
- Valpo is 3-4 in MVC play to date at home. All four conference home losses have been against top-100 RPI teams.
- Valpo went 4-11 at the ARC last year in Mary Evans’ first season at the helm of the program.
- UNI enters Friday’s game at 16-10 overall and 8-7 in MVC play to date.
- The Panthers have alternated wins and losses over their last seven games, most recently defeating Bradley last Saturday, 64-57.
- Karli Rucker averages a team-best 12.8 points per game.
- Megan Maahs is second on the team in scoring (9.1 points/game) and in rebounding (5.2 boards/game).
Keep on Winning
- Valpo continues to notch victories at a rate it hasn’t accomplished in a decade or more.
- The win over the Ramblers improved Valpo to 8-5 in true road games this year, the most road wins since the 2006-07 squad captured eight true road victories. It also secured a record above .500 in true road games this season.
- Saturday’s victory secured at least a .500 record for Valpo, the first time the program has finished at or above .500 since the 2008-09 team went 16-14.
- The seven MVC wins to date also are the most since the 2008-09 team posted a 10-8 record in Horizon League play.
- The win at Illinois State two games back was a especially big one for the program.
- With the Redbirds currently sitting at 84 in the RPI, they are the highest-ranked opponent Valpo has beaten since the 2012-13 squad beat a Youngstown State team which ended the season at 75 in the RPI.
- It was Valpo’s first true road win over a top-100 RPI team since the 2001-02 team went on the road for the first two rounds of the WNIT and beat Michigan and Ball State.
Hitting the Freebies
- Valpo has been strong all season long from the foul line.
- Last time out in the win at Loyola was somewhat of a minor blip for the Crusaders, as they hit “just” 28-of-38 (73.7%) from the foul line. This came after combining to go 53-of-59 (89.8%) over two games the previous weekend.
- Valpo’s season free throw percentage now sits at 79.9%, second nationally behind only William & Mary.
- Within MVC play, the Crusaders are hitting at an 82.5% rate from the foul line.
- Grace Hales’ 94.0% free throw percentage ranks second nationally and is on pace to smash Valpo’s single-season record of 88.6%.
- As a team, Valpo is over two full percentage points ahead of its single-season record of 77.6% from the stripe, set in 2013-14.
- Addison Stoller saw her streak of consecutive makes at the line snapped at 29 straight last time out, while Hales connected on four free throws against the Ramblers and has made 27 straight dating back to Jan. 12.
Troves of Triples
- Valpo has knocked down shots from behind the arc all season long, hitting an MVC-best 8.7 3-pointers/game.
- This year’s squad is quickly moving up the program’s single-season record book in the category, as with the six triples last time out at Illinois State, Valpo moved up into fourth position with 217 3-pointers this year.
- Valpo enters the UNI game just seven 3-pointers away from a tie for second place.
- With at least five games remaining in the season, this year’s team sits 59 3-pointers behind last year’s record-setting total of 276.
Hales Making Her Mark
- 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 Jan. 31 at Drake and currently ranks 14th in program history with 1,078 career points, just three away from 13th and 18 shy of 12th.
- Hales reached the mark thanks to her consistency, as she has played in all 119 Valpo games since she stepped on campus, ranking eighth in program history in career games played. She has seen her scoring average go up year by year and is averaging a team-best 12.4 points/game this year.
- Hales ranks eighth on Valpo’s career 3-pointers made chart, as she currently owns 160 career triples.
- Hales also ranks among Valpo’s all-time best in a pair of shooting categories. Her 4-for-4 performance last time out at the foul line at Loyola moved her slightly ahead of Dani Franklin for the top spot in program history in free throw percentage (.870), while she sits third in Valpo history in 3-point percentage (.377).
- In the MVC record book, which only counts years played in the Valley, Hales currently ranks fourth in free throw pct. (.887) and 17th in 3-point pct. (.397).
- Valpo has trotted out the same starting five through each of its first 25 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.
- 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.
- For the second time in Valley play this year, Valpo forced 31 turnovers last time out at Loyola in the victory. Valpo previously forced 31 turnovers in the home win over Indiana State - the most by a Valpo opponent since St. Francis (Ind.) committed 33 turnovers in November 2003.
- Valpo held a 38-4 advantage in points off turnovers in the win over the Ramblers.
- In MVC play so far, Valpo’s opponents are averaging 20.8 turnovers/game.
- 11 of the turnovers against the Ramblers were steals, as Valpo has recorded at least six steals in all but one game this season and is averaging an MVC-best 10.3 steals/game, good for 30th nationally.
- The team is currently on pace to finish with its highest single-season steals total in nearly two decades.
What A Rally
- The 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter of the home win over 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.
- In the home win over Evansville, Valpo recovered from a double-figure deficit to win for the third time this year, but this deficit came early in the second quarter, as Valpo trailed 27-16 with 7:52 to play in the first half.
- Most recently, Valpo trailed by 11 in the second quarter last time out in its road win at Loyola before rallying for a 13-point win.
- Valpo now owns four victories this year when trailing by double figures at any point in the game, while it has not lost a game it has enjoyed a double-digit lead at any point.