Valparaiso (9-10, 5-7 MVC)
Games #20/21 - Feb. 27/28 - 4 p.m./4 p.m.
at Southern Illinois (8-11, 5-9 MVC)
Banterra Center (9,000) - Carbondale, Ill.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: Coming off a thriller Wednesday night in Chicago, the Valpo women’s basketball team continues its five-game road stretch to close the regular season this weekend with a two-game series at Southern Illinois Saturday and Sunday. The games against the Salukis, which were originally slated to be played Jan. 22-23, are vital for the standings and postseason seeding, as Valpo enters the weekend one game ahead of SIU.
Previously: Fans will be forgiven if they thought they were experiencing déjà vu while watching the closing seconds of Valpo’s game against Loyola Wednesday evening from Chicago, as for the second time in as many years, junior Shay Frederick delivered a game-winning shot against the Ramblers as she converted a layup with 5.2 seconds to play to give Valpo the 57-55 victory. Senior Grace White finished one point off her career high with a game-high 22 points to lead the way for the Brown and Gold.
Following Valpo Basketball: Streaming Video: ESPN3
Radio: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) [Sunday only]
Live Stats/Streaming Audio [both games]: Available via ValpoAthletics.com
Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans (34-46) is in her third season as head coach of the Valpo women’s basketball program in 2020-21. Evans led the Valpo program to a remarkable season across the board in 2019-20, one that concluded among the nation’s top turnarounds from the season before. Valpo posted a 17-12 record in Evans’ second season at the helm, the 17 wins the most by a Valpo team since the 2006-07 campaign and the 10th-most in a single season in program history. Valpo improved its record by 10.5 games over the previous season in 2019-20, tied for the sixth-best improvement in Division I.
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 claimed victories in each of the first five meetings before Valpo earned a 69-58 victory in Carbondale in what turned out to be the final game of the 2019-20 season. Grace White led four players in double figures in that contest with 16 points, while Shay Frederick posted eight points and a career-best nine rebounds.
- Valpo has been picked to finish in seventh place in the MVC preseason poll, totaling 176 points.
- Valpo is in its fourth season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2020-21.
- The Valley was ranked eighth nationally in conference RPI in 2019-20.
...looking back at last year
- Valpo finished the 2019-20 campaign with a 17-12 overall record, a 10.5-game improvement over the previous year ‑ good for sixth-best nationally.
- Valpo jumped 172 spots in the RPI from the previous year, the largest leap for any D-I team in the nation.
- Valpo’s 17 wins marked the most by a Valpo team since 2006-07.
- The Brown and Gold finished in sixth place in the MVC standings with a 9-9 record - the program’s best finish since joining The Valley.
- The .500 record in conference play was the program’s first since 2008-09.
- Valpo closed the regular season strong, going 6-3 in the second half of MVC play.
- Grace Hales earned Honorable Mention All-Conference accolades, while Carie Weinman was named to the MVC All-Defensive Team.
- As a team, Valpo set the program’s single-season record for free throw percentage (.792), while Hales broke the program’s individual single-season record in the category (.890).
- Shay Frederick’s game-winning basket was almost identical to her 3-point play to defeat the Ramblers at the ARC last season, both coming on drives down the right-hand side and finishing at the rim. In fact, both baskets came with exactly 5.2 seconds to play.
- Leading the way in Wednesday’s win was Grace White, who returned from missing two games due to injury with a bang. White finished just one point off her season and career high with 22 points in the victory, going 9-of-12 from the field — matching her career best for field goals made.
- Carie Weinman was the only other Valpo player to reach double figures, notching 12 points. The junior also racked up five steals just one game after matching her career best with six thefts.
- Frederick attempted just two field goals before the game-winning bucket, finishing with six points and a team-high four assists, while Molly Sheehan added six points and three rebounds off the bench.
- Leah Earnest matched White’s effort on the glass as the pair tied for team-high honors with six boards.
- Valpo hit at a 45.7% clip from the field Wednesday and was 7-of-22 from 3-point range while limiting the Ramblers to 35.6% shooting.
- The game featured a total of seven ties and 15 lead changes.
- Valpo has now split five of its six MVC series to date, the only non-split a pair of losses to nationally-ranked Missouri State.
...versus Evansville - Saturday
- Caitlin Morrison, making the 101st start of her Valpo career, posted 10 points, two assists and two blocked shots on her Senior Night. She continued adding to her career block total, which now sits at 103 — fourth-best in program history.
- Ella Ellenson made her 47th career start in the Brown and Gold, scoring four points and grabbing five rebounds on her Senior Night. That effort capped a weekend that saw her crack Valpo’s career top-10 in blocked shots as well on Friday.
- Carie Weinman led the way for Valpo Saturday on both ends of the court. The junior scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including a trio of trifectas. Meanwhile, defensively Weinman matched her career high by coming up with six steals for the third time in her time in the Brown and Gold.
- Shay Frederick contributed 14 points — including three triples of her own — five assists and four steals, the latter tying her season best in the category.
- As a team, Valpo shot 14-for-43 from 3-point range in the win Saturday. The 43 3-point attempts were second-most in program history, just one shy of the team single-game record, while the 14 made triples tie for seventh-most in a single game.
- Valpo has knocked down exactly 14 triples in three of its last four meetings with the Purple Aces.
- Led by Weinman and Frederick, Valpo tallied 13 steals in Saturday’s win, matching its second-best effort in the category this year. Valpo finished the game a +10 (12-22) in the turnover column and outscored Evansville 30-12 in points off turnovers.
- Freshman walk-on Syria Butler and mid-year freshman enrollee Katie Beyer both made their debuts late in Saturday’s win.
- The regular season wraps up for the Brown and Gold at Drake March 5-6, with Hoops in the Heartland awaiting the next week.
...on the road
- Saturday and Sunday’s games will be the ninth and 10th road games for Valpo this season.
- Valpo is currently 4-4 on the road this year, with its most recent road game on Wednesday the win over Loyola. Valpo played five of its seven nonconference games away from home.
- Valpo has played just three road MVC games so far and has four scheduled for the final two weekends of the regular season.
- Valpo went 9-5 in true road games in 2019-20, including a 4-2 mark on the road in nonconference play.
- The nine true road wins marked the most road victories in a single season
since the 2001-02 team won nine true road games - two of which came in postseason play in the WNIT.
- Southern Illinois enters the weekend at 8-11 overall and sits one game back of Valpo in the MVC standings at 5-9 in conference play.
- The Salukis have won three of their last six after suffering a six-game losing streak.
- Abby Brockmeyer and Makenzie Silvey share team-high honors, averaging 14.2 points/game apiece, but Brockmeyer has missed the Salukis’ last five games.
- With its win against Loyola on Wednesday, Valpo split the season series with the Ramblers - a common trend for the program this year.
- Valpo has split five of its six series - five of which have been back-to-backs - this season. The only non-split was its two losses to nationally-ranked Missouri State, one of which came with the Lady Bears scoring the winning point in the final second.
So Nice, She Did It Twice
- For the second straight year, Shay Frederick beat Loyola on a basket with 5.2 seconds to play.
- Last year at the ARC, it was a 3-point play on a layup on the right side of the paint, while on Wednesday in Chicago, she finished on the right side of the rim for the decisive two points.
- While the game-winning shots were nearly identical, they came in completely different circumstances.
- Frederick’s basket on Wednesday came in a final four minutes which saw five lead changes.
- Meanwhile, last year’s game-winner capped a rally from down 11 inside the final three minutes.
Close Games Go Our Way
- The win over the Ramblers in the final seconds maintained the program’s success in close games, both this year and in Mary Evans’ three seasons as head coach.
- Two of Valpo’s last three MVC wins have come by five points or fewer, as Valpo edged out Bradley in the series opener by five as well.
- Valpo earned a trio of non-conference wins by five points or less as it came away with the victory at Illinois, at Purdue and against Xavier.
- The program is 5-1 in games decided by five or fewer points this year, with its only such loss coming in the second game against Missouri State where the Lady Bears scored the deciding points in the final season.
- Since Evans’ arrival, Valpo is 14-6 in games decided by five or fewer points.
- The Brown and Gold were 4-2 last year and 5-3 in 2018-19 in close games.
Coming Up With Steals
- Junior Carie Weinman came up with the critical steal in the closing seconds to finish out Valpo’s win over Loyola on Wednesday, one of five thefts for Weinman in the victory.
- This came just one game after Weinman matched her career best with six steals in the win over Evansville.
- On the year, Weinman is leading the MVC with 2.8 steals/game, one year after pacing the Valley with 2.2 steals/game.
- Weinman is attempting to become the first player to lead the Valley in steals in consecutive seasons since Illinois State’s Jamie Russell did so in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
- Weinman has now tallied at least four steals in a game on seven occasions this year. On the flip side, she has been held without a steal just once.
Back on the Road
- When Valpo played Loyola on Wednesday night, it was the program’s first road game in 40 days.
- That was the longest that Valpo has gone between games away from home since the 1989-90 team went 40 days in between a Nov. 25 neutral-site game against UAB and a Jan. 4 game at Loyola Marymount.
- In between, this year’s Valpo squad set its program record for most games in a homestand, playing seven consecutive home games - the 1989-90 team played just four games in between games away from home.
- Valpo is slated to play its final five games of the regular season away from home, which would be its longest stretch of true road games since playing six straight road contests Dec. 19, 1999-Jan. 8, 2000.
From Way Downtown
- Valpo took its 3-point bombing to another level in the two-game series against Evansville last weekend.
- The Brown and Gold attempted 43 3-pointers in the Saturday win, second-most in program history and just one off the program record, after trying 42 triples on Friday, tied for third-most in a game in program history.
- Valpo connected on 14 trifectas in the Saturday victory, tied for seventh-most 3-point makes in a single game.
- Valpo has now connected on 14 or more 3-pointers in a game 17 times in program history, eight of which have come in the three-year tenure of head coach Mary Evans.
- Valpo currently ranks 10th nationally in 3-point attempts and 22nd in 3-pointers/game.
- In an unusual year, it’s only fitting that three different players would see their debuts in the Brown and Gold come in the team’s 17th and 18th games of the year.
- Mid-year freshman enrollee Molly Sheehan debuted with seven fourth-quarter minutes Friday against Evansville and has played 22 minutes in the two games since, going 4-for-9 from 3-point range in her first three appearances.
- The Saturday game versus Evansville saw mid-year freshman enrollee Katie Beyer and freshman walk-on Syria Butler both make their debuts, with Beyer recording a rebound.
Claiming Top 100 Wins
- With the MVC a top-8 conference last year by RPI and top-7 this year by NET, it gives Valpo plenty of opportunities for top-100 wins, and the team has taken advantage.
- Valpo opened MVC play this year with a win over UNI, currently ranked #79 in the NET, which is being used by the NCAA for women’s basketball this year.
- Valpo then won at Illinois State Jan. 15, which entered that week ranked #37 in the NET and currently ranked #72, and later earned a home win over Bradley, currently #83 in the NET.
- Valpo now has five top-100 wins in MVC play over the last two years, having beaten Illinois State and UNI in the second half of last year’s conference slate.
- Prior to last year’s win at Illinois State, Valpo had gone nearly seven years since its last top-100 win.
A Normal(ish?) Nonconference
- With all that has happened this year, Valpo had about as normal a nonconference schedule as could be expected.
- All seven of the games that were announced prior to the season were played on their scheduled date, with no postponements or cancellations.
- With that, it was still a truncated nonconference slate, as Valpo played just seven games over a span of 23 days.
- The seven nonconference games are the fewest Valpo has played in a single season since first joining a conference prior to the 1987-88 campaign.
- It also is the fewest games prior to the team’s first conference game since the 1999-2000 squad opened Mid-Con play with a single game in early December after just four nonconference games.
- Valpo finished the pre-conference slate with a 4-3 record after going 8-3 in pre-conference play last year. Before last season, Valpo had finished at or above .500 in pre-conference action just once in the last 10 years.
A Winning Calendar Year
- When 2020 came to a close, the program had finished with a winning calendar year.
- Valpo went 9-9 in January, February and March, and then went 4-3 in November and December to post a 13-12 record.
- 2020 was the first winning calendar year for the program since going 20-10 in 2007.
A B1G Victory...and Another
- The Dec. 6 win was the second win in program history over Purdue, and the first since dropping the nationally-ranked Boilermakers at the ARC on Dec. 10, 2008.
- The win at Illinois marked Valpo’s first-ever win over the Illini, as the Brown and Gold were previously 0-4 in the series - all four losses coming by at least 19 points.
- Valpo defeated multiple Big Ten teams in the same season for the first time in program history.
- The victory at Illinois was Valpo’s first over a Big Ten team — or any Power Five program, for that matter — since taking down Indiana 64-52 at the ARC to open the 2012-13 campaign.
- After entering the season with just one road win all-time against Big Ten opponents, Valpo now has three such victories.
- B1G teams owned a 39-4 record in home nonconference games this year; Valpo is responsible for two of the four losses.
- Valpo is the first team with multiple nonconference road wins at Big Ten programs since 2017-18.
...and Then a Big Win
- Valpo rolled to an easy win over Western Michigan in its home opener, leading by double figures for the final 31 minutes en route to the 24-point win.
- The 24-point margin of victory was Valpo’s largest over a MAC school since defeating WMU 88-54 way back in December 1996.
Taking Down Power Five Teams
- This year’s squad becomes the third team in program history to defeat two teams from Power Five conferences in the same season.
- The 2001-02 team beat Wake Forest and Michigan, while the 2008-09 squad defeated Florida State in addition to Purdue.
- This year’s team is the first to earn two true road wins over Power Five programs, however.
- In all, the wins over Illinois and Purdue were Valpo’s ninth and 10th victories over Power Five programs in team history - see page five of the notes for a table of all 10 wins.
- The win over Xavier was the ninth in program history against a current Big East program, but victories over Butler were responsible for the other eight wins.
Erasing Double-Digit Deficits
- The win over Bradley Feb. 4, in which Valpo overcame three separate double-digit deficits, was the third rally from down 10+ for a win this year.
- The MVC-opening win against UNI featured Valpo rallying from an 11-point deficit to win, while against Xavier, Valpo found itself down by as many as 12 points in the first quarter before eventually earning the win.
- Nine times in Mary Evans’ tenure as head coach has Valpo erased a double-figure deficit in a victory - last year’s team did so four times, while the 2018-19 team did so twice. Eight of those wins have come since the last time Valpo surrendered a double-digit lead in a loss (Feb. 15, 2019).
- The speed with which Valpo has turned around and gained a lead when trailing by double figures in both this year’s wins has been impressive - versus Xavier, Valpo went from down 12 to leading in just 3:10, and then in the win over UNI, Valpo went from down 10 to leading in just 3:05.
- The two third-quarter 10-point deficits versus Bradley were erased in 3:19 and 3:23.