Valparaiso (16-11, 8-8 MVC)
Game #28 - Thursday, March 5 - 7 p.m.
at #23/21 Missouri State (24-4, 14-2 MVC)
JQH Arena (11,000) - Springfield, Mo.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: One final weekend of conference play awaits the Valpo women’s basketball team, starting with the longest trek for a road game on the MVC slate as the Brown and Gold play at nationally-ranked Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. on Thursday night. With just two games remaining in the regular season, Valpo can finish anywhere from fourth to eighth in the final MVC standings.
Previously: The final regular season home game of the year at the ARC for Valpo provided yet another reminder of how far the program has come over the last few years, as the Brown and Gold battled toe-to-toe with MVC powerhouse Drake throughout Sunday afternoon’s contest before the Bulldogs escaped with an 83-79 victory. Grace Hales led four Valpo players in double figures with 16 points.
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Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans (24-35) 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: A series which commenced when Valpo joined the MVC prior to the 2017-18 season, Missouri State has earned victories in all five meetings since. Earlier this year in Valpo, the Brown and Gold enjoyed one of the best 3-point shooting days in program history, going 14-for-22 from the 3-point line, but it wouldn’t be quite enough to pull off the upset of the nationally-ranked Lady Bears, as MSU earned an 81-68 victory. Grace Hales led the way offensively for Valpo, going 5-of-6 from 3-point range for 17 points.
- 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.
- A back-and-forth first few minutes saw Drake emerge with an 11-8 lead at the first quarter media timeout. After the stoppage, though, Valpo outscored the Bulldogs 12-2 over the final four-plus minutes of the period to earn a 22-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
- Drake started the second quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 24-22 lead with 5:50 to play in the first half. The Bulldogs extended their lead to 30-26 with 2:36 to play in the half, but the teams would trade the lead three times in the final two minutes of the half and enter the locker room tied at 36-36.
- Valpo led for the vast majority of the third quarter, enjoying as many as a six-point advantage at 50-44 with 4:21 to play in the quarter. A 7-0 run for Drake later in the quarter erased Valpo’s advantage, and the quarter ended with the score tied at 55-55.
- A 3-point play in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter gave Drake a quick three-point lead, but Grace Hales turned the score around with a personal seven-point spurt to put Valpo ahead 62-58 with 7:55 to play.
- A 3-pointer 21 seconds later from Shay Frederick again made it a four-point lead, but over the next 6:30, Drake outscored Valpo 17-6 to pull ahead, 78-71.
- Valpo had one final push, with 3-pointers from Frederick and Ella Ellenson sandwiching a pair of Drake free throws to make it an 80-77 game with 13 seconds to play. But the Crusaders never got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead.
- Four Valpo players scored in double figures Sunday, led by 16 from Hales on her Senior Day. Ellenson came off the bench with a season-high 15 points as well.
- The Crusaders were 13-of-15 at the charity stripe, while Drake was 33-of-48. The difference of 33 free throw attempts was the program’s largest since a 36-attempt discrepancy in a 3-point loss at #20 Purdue in November 2007.
- UNI led 22-18 at the end of one quarter and maintained a four-point advantage at halftime, 39-35.
- Much like the first half, the third quarter was back and forth, featuring three ties and seven lead changes. The only time after the opening seconds that either team enjoyed more than a one-possession edge came when UNI pulled ahead by five, 49-44, with 4:47 to play in the quarter.
- Valpo rallied to twice take a one-point lead in the late stages of the quarter, and the game entered the final 10 minutes tied at 54-54.
- Shay Frederick, Carie Weinman and Ilysse Pitts combined for all the Valpo points in a 10-2 run over the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, with Pitts canning a corner 3-pointer to force a UNI timeout with the Brown and Gold enjoying a 64-56 lead with 6:15 to go.
- The Panthers wouldn’t go down quietly, scoring the next six points in a row to cut the lead to two points. In fact, UNI would three times in a two-minute stretch make it a one-possession game, but all three times, Valpo came up with points.
- With the lead sitting at 69-66, the clock hitting two minutes to play and the shot clock about to expire, Weinman stepped up and knocked down a deep 3-pointer to extend the lead to six.
- UNI pulled within three with 39 seconds to go and had a shot to tie following a Valpo shot-clock violation, but Karli Rucker’s last-second 3-point attempt was deflected by Frederick and came up well short.
- Shay Frederick led the way in the victory as she poured in a career-best 22 points. She also grabbed five rebounds and tied for team-high honors with four assists while not committing a turnover.
- Weinman did not miss a shot from the field, finishing with 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting. She also continued her campaign for MVC Defensive Player of the Year with a game-high five steals, pushing her average in conference play to an MVC-best 3.0 steals/game.
- Four of Valpo’s five starters scored in double figures, as both Grace Hales and Caitlin Morrison scored 10 points as well.
- Valpo rallied from a halftime deficit to win for the sixth time this year.
- The regular season comes to an end Saturday afternoon at Southern Illinois.
- Hoops in the Heartland opens up next weekend.
...on the road
- Valpo is 8-5 in true road games this year. The Brown and Gold went 4-2 in non-conference road play and owns conference road wins over Indiana State, Evansville, Illinois State and Loyola.
- Valpo has won eight road games this season, the most road victories in a single season since the 2006-07 team won eight true road games.
- Valpo has earned its three largest road wins in the last decade this season - a 22-point win at Evansville and 19-point wins at Detroit Mercy and at Indiana State.
- The 22-point win at Evansville was Valpo’s largest road win since a 66-41 win at Youngstown State on Jan. 14, 2010.
- Three of Valpo’s four road non-conference victories came by double figures - the first time the program won three road non-conference games by 10+ points since 1999-2000.
- Valpo had a five-game road winning streak earlier this year and went more than two months between road losses (Nov. 21-Jan. 31). The five-game streak on the road was the program’s longest since the 2004-05 team won five straight road contests Dec. 18-Jan. 5.
- Missouri State enters Thursday’s game at 24-4 overall and 14-2 in MVC play, most recently becoming the first team to earn a road win at Bradley this year.
- MSU lost at Illinois State last Friday to snap a nine-game winning streak.
- The Lady Bears are led by Alexa Willard, who averages 16.4 points/game.
- Brice Calip adds 12.5 points/game and has handed out a team-high 106 assists this year, while Jasmine Franklin averages 10.9 points and a team-best 8.7 rebounds per game.
Facing Ranked Foes
- Friday’s game will be Valpo’s second of the season against a nationally-ranked team, as the Lady Bears were also nationally ranked when they visited the ARC in early January (#21/19).
- Non-conference opponent Northwestern is currently 11th in the AP poll and 13th in the coaches poll, but was not ranked at the time of the game.
- The 13-point loss to Missouri State at the ARC marked Valpo’s closest result against a nationally-ranked team since December 13, 2008, when it hosted #8/8 Notre Dame and dropped a narrow 63-55 decision. Valpo had played 20 games against nationally-ranked opposition since that contest.
- This will be the first time Valpo has faced the same nationally-ranked program multiple times in the regular season since taking on Green Bay in January and February 2012 - that year, Valpo actually faced the nationally-ranked Phoenix in the Horizon League Tournament in March as well.
- In all, this is Valpo’s 45th 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.
What An Improvement
- This year’s Valpo squad has already doubled its win total from last season, as last year’s team went 8-24 overall, while this year’s team enters the final weekend of the regular season at 16-11.
- It is already tied for the second-largest improvement in the win column from one year to the next in program history.
- The 2001-02 team improved an astounding 19 wins from the previous season (7-22 -> 26-7), while the 1997-98 team also gained eight victories (14-12 -> 22-7).
- Not only has this year’s team added at least eight victories to its ledger, it already owns five more MVC wins than last season.
- Among the other nine Valpo programs, only Bradley (+1 MVC win) and Loyola (+2 overall wins) have already surpassed either their overall or MVC win totals from last year.
About Last Weekend
- The win over UNI was Valpo’s first over the Panthers since joining the MVC.
- It was Valpo’s 16th win of the year, securing a winning record for the first time since 2008-09.
- The 16 wins also matches the most in a single season since the 2006-07 squad won 20.
- Friday’s win was Valpo’s eighth in MVC play this season, matching its total from its first two seasons as a conference member combined.
- It was also Valpo’s third straight MVC win, the program’s first three-game winning streak in conference play since winning three straight Horizon League games in January 2009.
- The victory over the Panthers was a win over a squad currently ranked 75th in the RPI.
- It was Valpo’s second win in a two-week span over a top-100 RPI team, as the Brown and Gold won at Illinois State, which currently sits 61st in the RPI, on Feb. 16.
- Prior to the victory over the Redbirds, Valpo had not defeated a top-100 RPI foe since a win over Detroit on March 9, 2013, while it was Valpo’s first road win over a top-100 team since the 2002 WNIT.
- Sunday’s matchup with Drake was easily the closest Valpo has come to toppling the Bulldogs since joining the MVC.
- The four-point final margin was by far the closest in the series over the last three years, the previous closest game being the 21-point final earlier this year in Des Moines.
- Valpo led for 18:40 in Sunday’s game, this coming after the Brown and Gold led for nearly 16 minutes on the road at Drake earlier this year. In their first six meetings as MVC opponents, Valpo did not lead for a single second.
A Look at the Standings
- With all teams having either one or two games remaining, Valpo is in the midst of a tight battle in the middle of the MVC standings.
- The Crusaders are currently in sixth place, one game back of Illinois State for fourth and one-half game behind UNI in fifth.
- Behind Valpo, Southern Illinois sits seventh, one game back, while Loyola is two games back in eighth.
- The top-six placement is crucial, as the bottom four teams in the final standings have to open the MVC Tournament on Thursday.
- A Thursday win over Missouri State, combined with a Loyola win at SIU, would secure a top-six spot for Valpo.
- Having won five of its last seven games, Valpo has put itself in a spot to potentially earn a postseason berth.
- 144 Division I women’s basketball teams earn a spot in the postseason (64 NCAA, 64 WNIT, 16 WBI).
- Entering Tuesday’s games, Valpo’s RPI sits at 149.
- The program has not appeared in the postseason since the 2003-04 team went to the NCAA Tournament.
- It wouldn’t be surprising to find sophomore Carie Weinman’s face on a Wanted poster, given the number of steals she has racked up this season.
- Weinman has tallied 15 steals over the last three games: six at Loyola to match a season high, five in the win over UNI and four last time out versus Drake.
- Weinman has tallied four or more steals in eight of Valpo’s 16 MVC games to date.
- Only four times through 27 games this year has Weinman not come away with at least one steal.
- The sophomore leads the Valley both overall (2.4 steals/game) and in MVC-only play (3.1/game) in the steals category.
- Weinman was named MVC Newcomer of the Week after averaging 13.5 points/game on 66.7% shooting and 4.5 steals/game against UNI and Drake, her third Newcomer of the Week honor of the season.
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 12th in program history with 1,104 career points.
- Hales reached the mark thanks to her consistency, as she has played in all 121 Valpo games since she stepped on campus, tied for fourth 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 162 career triples.
- Hales also ranks among Valpo’s all-time best in a pair of shooting categories. She trails only current assistant coach Dani Franklin in career free throw percentage (.864), while she sits fourth in Valpo history in 3-point percentage (.374).
- In the MVC record book, which only counts years played in the Valley, Hales currently ranks fifth in free throw pct. (.879) and 20th in 3-point pct. (.392).
Frederick Helps Out
- Sophomore Shay Frederick is on the verge of cracking Valpo’s single-season top-10 for assists.
- After dishing out a game-high six assists last time out against Drake, Frederick has now tallied 120 assists this season, just four shy of the program’s single-season top-10 chart.
- The sophomore currently ranks third in the Valley in both assists (4.4/game) and assist/TO ratio (1.79).
- Frederick has now handed out at least six assists on eight occasions this year.
- With 226 career assists, she also finds herself just two shy of Valpo’s career top-10 in the category.
Threes and Thieves
- Valpo paces the Valley this year in both 3-pointers/game (8.6) and steals/game (10.5).
- This comes after ranking second in the MVC last year in 3-pointers and third in steals.
- Valpo ranks 14th nationally in 3-pointers/game and 26th in steals/game.
- After knocking down 10 triples last time out, this year’s team owns 233 3-pointers this year - second-most in a single season in program history, trailing just last year’s total of 276.
- Meanwhile, after registering 13 steals against Drake, this year’s squad has recorded 283 steals as a team, just six thefts shy of cracking the program’s single-season top-10 in the category.
- Valpo has trotted out the same starting five through each of its first 27 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.
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 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.