The Valpo women’s basketball team had a 10-point third-quarter lead against defending MAC Tournament champions Central Michigan at the ARC on Sunday afternoon and still led by five with 10 minutes to play, but the Chippewas outscored the Beacons by nine in the fourth quarter to earn a 65-61 victory. Sophomore Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) had a career day, pouring in 17 points off the bench.
How It Happened
- After a first quarter where neither squad could take control, CMU went on a 10-0 run in the middle of the second quarter to pull out to a 27-21 lead with 2:52 to play in the first half.
- Valpo responded with the last eight points of the half to take a 29-27 lead into halftime, however. Earnest scored the first six points of the spurt, while Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) had a steal and fast-break layup in the final minute to put Valpo on top.
- The Beacons scored on each of their first six field goal attempts of the second half, including two 3-pointers from Maya Dunson (Dayton, Ohio/Wayne [Loyola]) and consecutive fast-break layups from Carie Weinman (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South [Denver]), to extend their lead to eight points.
- Later in the quarter, another basket from Weinman pushed Valpo’s lead to double digits at 45-35 with 4:44 to play in the period.
- Valpo had the ball four times with a chance to extend its lead further, but was unable to find the basket in any of those instances. CMU closed the quarter with a 9-4 stretch over the final three minutes to make it a 49-44 game with 10 minutes remaining.
- Earnest scored on Valpo’s first possession of the fourth quarter to push its lead to seven points. That would be its apex in the final period, however.
- A 3-pointer from the Chippewas’ Hanna Knoll with eight minutes to play in the game started a stretch in which CMU scored on seven of eight possessions. The 16-2 run spanned just over four minutes and gave the Chippewas a 60-53 lead with under four minutes to play.
- Valpo got defensive stops on each of CMU’s next four trips and scored five points on its ensuing offensive possessions, the last a bucket from Earnest to make it a two-point game at 60-58 with 43 seconds remaining.
- After Valpo fouled to put the Chippewas in the bonus, CMU split a pair at the line to give the Beacons a chance to tie the game, but a potential tying shot with 25 seconds to play was off the mark. Frederick hit a 3-pointer within the final 10 seconds to make it 63-61 and keep hope alive, but CMU’s Molly Davis connected on two free throws to secure the win for the Chippewas.
Inside the Game
- Sunday’s game came against a Central Michigan program which not only won the MAC Tournament last season, but has qualified for the NCAA Tournament each of the last four years.
- The loss was Valpo’s first when leading by double figures at any point in the game since a loss at Evansville on Feb. 15, 2019. In the interim, Valpo had won nine games in which it had trailed by 10 points or more at any instance.
- Despite the loss, the play of Earnest stood out on Sunday. The sophomore came off the bench to hit 7-of-9 from the field for a game-high 17 points, setting a new career best.
- Earnest also grabbed six rebounds, one off team-high honors as Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) secured seven boards.
- Weinman added 12 points and tallied three steals as well.
- Frederick tied for game-high honors with six assists, moving within eight helpers of sixth place in program history in the category.
- Dunson and White each added nine points, while the latter also chipped in three steals and two blocked shots.
- Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) blocked three shots as Valpo tallied six rejections as a team.
- After turning the ball over 20 times in the season opener, Valpo committed just seven miscues on Sunday. The Beacons were a +12 in the turnover column and outscored CMU off turnovers, 15-4.
- The Chippewas secured 18 offensive rebounds to Valpo’s nine and owned an 18-5 advantage in second chance points.
One season ago, Valpo defeated two Big Ten teams on the road and took a third to overtime. Tuesday, this year’s squad will have its own opportunity to claim a B1G victory, as the Beacons head to Michigan State. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. CT, and the game can be seen live on BTN+. Valpo’s radio broadcast will be available on WVUR, 95.1 FM, and on the TuneIn app.