Valparaiso (16-12, 8-9 MVC)
Game #29 - Saturday, March 7 - 2 p.m.
at Southern Illinois (16-12, 8-9 MVC)
Banterra Center (9,000) - Carbondale, Ill.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: It’s about as critical as a single game can get as the Valpo women’s basketball team caps the 2019-20 regular season Saturday afternoon at Southern Illinois. A victory over the Salukis would give Valpo the sixth seed for Hoops in the Heartland, which means it would open tournament play next Friday, while an SIU win drops the Brown and Gold to the seventh seed and forces them to play in first-round action Thursday night.
Previously: Valpo battled gamely with #23/21 Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. on Thursday evening, but the Lady Bears outscored the Brown and Gold by eight in a key third quarter in an eventual 85-70 MSU win. Junior Grace White led all players with an 18-point effort off the bench.
Following Valpo Basketball: Streaming Video: ESPN3
Radio: WVUR (95.1 FM-Valparaiso) [if no simultaneous MBB game]
Live Stats/Streaming Audio: Available via ValpoAthletics.com
Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans (24-36) 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: It’s a brief series between SIU and Valpo, as the two programs did not meet prior to Valpo joining the MVC in 2017-18. The Salukis have claimed victories in all five games to date, including a 67-51 decision in the MVC opener this year at the ARC way back on Jan. 3 which snapped a seven-game Valpo winning streak. Addison Stoller led Valpo in that contest with 13 points, as the Brown and Gold shot just 31.3% from the field in the losing 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 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.
...at Missouri State
- The Lady Bears led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter and enjoyed a 23-18 lead at the end of the period.
- The Lady Bears extended their lead back to seven points early in the second quarter before Valpo reeled off seven straight to tie the game for the first time since the opening minute at 28-28 with 5:28 to play in the half.
- A four-point play by Caitlin Morrison with 48 seconds to play in the half erased most of what was at that a five-point MSU lead, and Valpo tied the game with seven seconds to play in the quarter before the Lady Bears’ Elle Ruffridge hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Missouri State a 40-37 lead at intermission.
- It took Valpo over five minutes into the third quarter to connect on its first field goal, a stretch which saw Missouri State extend its lead to double figures with a 10-3 spurt.
- The lead varied between eight and 11 points for the remainder of the quarter, with the Lady Bears holding a 65-54 lead at the end of three.
- Valpo was unable to get any closer than 10 points in the fourth quarter as Missouri State closed out the win.
- Thursday’s result was Valpo’s closest on the road against a nationally-ranked opponent since falling 58-50 at #12/11 Notre Dame in December 2005.
- Valpo was led by White in the scoring column for just the second time this year. The junior tallied 18 points, hitting three 3-pointers and going 7-of-8 from the foul line, while also grabbing five rebounds.
- Valpo’s trio of players averaging in double figures this season were limited to just a combined 15 points on Thursday.
- Valpo committed just 11 turnovers, its lowest total in MVC play this season.
- On the flip side, the Crusaders forced just 11 MSU turnovers and came up with just five steals in the loss. Both numbers were the team’s worst marks in MVC play to date.
- The Lady Bears, who secured at least a share of the MVC regular season title with Thursday’s win, grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and converted them in 28 second-chance points.
- 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.
- Hoops in the Heartland opens up next weekend, either on Friday versus Bradley (if the sixth seed) or Thursday versus Evansville (if the seventh seed).
...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.
- Southern Illinois enters Saturday’s game with an identical record to Valpo - 16-12 overall and 8-9 in MVC play.
- The Salukis earned a 58-41 win over Loyola last time out to snap a brief two-game losing streak.
- Makenzie Silvey leads SIU, averaging 15.2 points/game on the year to go with a team-best 59 3-pointers.
- Nicole Martin adds 12.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
All On the Line
- One of the two most important delineations in the final MVC standings is on the line Saturday, as the winner of the Valpo-SIU game will claim the sixth seed for Hoops in the Heartland, while the loser will be the seventh seed.
- While with a win, Valpo could finish in a tie for fifth, it would lose a tiebreaker to UNI based on power rating.
- Valpo is hoping to avoid playing on Thursday for the first time in three years as an MVC member, as it finished tied for eighth (2017-18) and in ninth (2018-19) in its first two years in the league.
- If it could finish in a tie for fifth, it would be the first top-half finish since the 2008-09 squad finished tied for fourth in the Horizon League.
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 game of the regular season at 16-12.
- 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 MVC programs, only Bradley (+2 MVC wins; +1 overall win), Loyola (+2 overall wins) and SIU (+1 overall win) 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 77th 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 65th 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.
- With 16 wins already under its belt, 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 Friday’s games, Valpo’s RPI sits at 143.
- 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 four or more steals in eight of Valpo’s 17 MVC games to date.
- Only five times through 28 games this year has Weinman not come away with at least one steal, one of those coming last time out at Missouri State.
- The sophomore leads the Valley both overall (2.3 steals/game) and in MVC-only play (2.9/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 1,108 career points.
- Hales reached the mark thanks to her consistency, as she has played in all 122 Valpo games since she stepped on campus, tied for third 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 163 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 (.862), while she sits third in Valpo history in 3-point percentage (.376).
- In the MVC record book, which only counts years played in the Valley, Hales currently ranks fifth in free throw pct. (.876) and 19th in 3-point pct. (.393).
Frederick Helps Out
- Sophomore Shay Frederick is on the verge of cracking Valpo’s single-season top-10 for assists.
- Frederick enters the regular season finale with 122 assists this year, just two shy of the program’s single-season top-10 chart.
- The sophomore currently ranks second in the Valley in assists (4.4/game) and third in assist/TO ratio (1.74).
- Frederick has now handed out at least six assists on eight occasions this year.
- With 228 career assists, Frederick cracked Valpo’s career top-20 in the category last time out.
Threes and Thieves
- Valpo paces the Valley this year in both 3-pointers/game (8.6) and steals/game (10.3).
- 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 29th in steals/game.
- After knocking down nine triples last time out, this year’s team owns 242 3-pointers this year - second-most in a single season in program history, trailing just last year’s total of 276.
- Despite being held to an MVC-low five steals last time out at Missouri State, this year’s squad has recorded 288 steals as a team, just one theft 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 28 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.