The Valpo women’s basketball team picked up its first Missouri Valley Conference victory of the 2021-22 season in thrilling fashion Friday evening at the ARC over visiting UNI, overcoming a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter thanks to stout defense and rebounding and getting the game-winning 3-point play from Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) with 51 seconds to play to edge the Panthers, 60-58. Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) broke Valpo career records for both games played and games started when she stepped into the center circle for the tip-off on Friday.
How It Happened
- UNI converted a four-point play on its first possession of the fourth quarter to pull ahead 53-40, but Valpo held the Panthers to just two points over a stretch of nearly eight minutes to allow the comeback to ensue.
- It was contributions across the board which gave the Beacons an opportunity to nose their way back into contention. The first spurt featured three points from Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH), a bucket from Maya Dunson (Dayton, Ohio/Wayne [Loyola]) and a pair of free throws by Frederick to cut the UNI lead to 53-47 with 7:07 to play.
- The Panthers got a second-chance basket on their next trip to push the lead back to eight points, where it would stay until the clock ticked inside four minutes.
- Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) broke the two-way scoring drought with a drive and finish, and after the Valpo defense forced a UNI shot clock violation, Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic) came up with a big 3-point play with three minutes remaining to bring the Beacons within 55-52.
- After the teams traded turnovers, Valpo forced another Panther miss and came down to tie the game for the first time since 0-0, as Pitts hit White for a triple — the team’s lone 3-pointer of the fourth quarter — to even things up, 55-55, with 2:10 to go.
- UNI split a pair of free throws on its next trip before the Beacons came back and took their first lead of the game, courtesy of an Earnest feed to Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [St. Bonaventure]) for a layup with 1:15 to go.
- The Panthers inched back in front as Karli Rucker connected on a floater on their offensive end at the 1:02 mark, but that just set the stage for the game-clinching basket by Frederick while taking contact to make it a two-point lead with 51 seconds to go.
- UNI missed a 16-foot baseline jumper out of a timeout, and Valpo ran the shot clock all the way down before missing a 3-point attempt. The Panthers had one last shot, but their try from deep was off the mark and the buzzer sounded as the rebound hit the floor, setting off the Valpo celebration.
- UNI took a lead it would not relinquish until the final minutes immediately on Friday, hitting a 3-pointer on its first possession of the game. The Panthers’ lead reached seven points in the first quarter, and was 18-13 at the end of the period as Kayba Laube hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
- Much like the first period, UNI led by as many as seven points in the second quarter. The Panthers’ edge was seven with a minute to play in the first half, but a steal and fast-break layup by Brown and a nice find by Frederick to hit Pitts on the back cut for a buzzer-beating layup brought Valpo within 33-30 at intermission.
- UNI came out of the locker room and scored the first seven points of the second half to extend its lead to double figures for the first time. The Panthers led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter and were ahead 49-40 with 10 minutes to play.
Inside the Game
- Friday’s win marked the 11th time in the four-year tenure of head coach Mary Evans that Valpo has rallied from down double digits to win.
- The 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter ties the program’s largest comeback in the final period since the move to quarters — Valpo previously rallied from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter in a 66-64 win over Loyola on Jan. 24, 2020. Ironically, the two-point final margin in that win was also secured by a 3-point play from Frederick.
- The last time Valpo rallied from a larger deficit within the game’s final 10 minutes came at Loyola on Feb. 17, 2011. Valpo trailed that day by 14 points with 8:45 to play and went on to a 72-68 victory.
- Friday’s win came over a UNI team which went 7-4 in non-conference play and was playing its MVC opener after having its first weekend of MVC play postponed. The Panthers entered Friday with a NET rating of 46, while all four teams who beat them in non-conference play appeared in the latest ESPN NCAA Tournament Bracketology.
- Valpo limited UNI to a season-low 58 points. The Panthers hit at just a 32.4% clip from the field, their second-worst shooting percentage of the season, besting only their effort against Iowa. The Beacons also sent UNI to the free throw line for just six attempts.
- The defense and rebounding were the highlights in the fourth quarter for the Beacons. After surrendering the four-point play on the first trip of the period, Valpo limited UNI to just five points over its final 16 possessions of the game. Meanwhile, the Panthers grabbed 16 offensive rebounds on Friday, but none of them came in the final six-plus minutes of the game.
- All three of Valpo’s wins this year have come when holding its opponent under 60 points. The Beacons also earned their first win of the season when trailing at the half.
- The Beacons got contributions up and down the rotation from all eight players who were in uniform Friday, highlighted by a second consecutive standout performance from Brown. The junior scored a game-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and knocked down three of her four 3-point attempts.
- Frederick added 13 points, capped by the decisive 3-point play, and dished out five assists in the winning effort.
- Earnest posted nine points and a team-high eight rebounds, while White came off the bench for seven points and six rebounds and Dunson chipped in six points.
- After having appeared in just four games this season for a total of 17 minutes, Pitts played nearly 20 minutes on Friday — including all 10 minutes of the fourth quarter. She finished with five points, five rebounds and three assists, and grabbed four of her five rebounds in the final period.
- Morrison made the 126th appearance of her Valpo career on Friday and started for the 122nd time, surpassing records previously held by Kathryn Knoester and Meredith Hamlet, respectively.
Valpo (3-11, 1-2 MVC) looks for a weekend sweep of the Iowa schools on Sunday afternoon when it welcomes Drake to the ARC. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m., and the game can be seen live on ESPN+.