It would be hard to script Senior Day any better than it went for the Valpo women’s basketball team on Saturday afternoon.
The program recognized Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South), Carie Weinman (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South [Denver]) and Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) prior to Saturday’s game against MVC regular season champion Southern Illinois, and then when the ball was tossed in the air, the trio combined for 39 points in their final game at the ARC, leading the way as the Beacons handled the Salukis, 67-54, to secure a spot in the quarterfinals at Hoops in the Heartland.
How It Happened
- SIU led for much of the first quarter, but Valpo did not allow the Salukis to pull out to more than a three-point advantage.
- The Beacons held SIU scoreless for the final three minutes of the opening period and scored six straight over that stretch — four points from Maya Dunson (Dayton, Ohio/Wayne [Loyola]) and a last-second layup by Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) — to take a 14-11 lead 10 minutes into the game.
- Valpo pushed its edge to five points early in the second quarter, but went without a field goal for a span of over four minutes.
- The Salukis went on a 7-2 mini-run during that span to tie the game at 20-20 with 4:17 to play in the first half. That proved to be the game’s last tie, however, as on Valpo’s next possession, Morrison cashed in from deep to return the lead to the Beacons.
- Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) scored five points over the course of two possessions late in the quarter to help Valpo lead 28-24 at intermission.
- Valpo’s first two possessions of the second half featured a second-chance triple from Weinman and a fast-break layup by Frederick, forcing an early SIU timeout. The Beacons pushed their lead into double figures just three minutes into the second half as the Salukis went without a point for the first four minutes of the period.
- Weinman and White combined for the final 14 points of the quarter for Valpo as the lead continued to extend. It reached as high as 14 points in the third quarter, 46-32 with 2:09 to play in the period on a White triple.
- After SIU came back with five straight points, a perfectly-executed baseline out-of-bounds play had Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic) hit Weinman for a wide-open layup. The Valpo lead eventually settled at 48-38 with 10 minutes to play.
- Valpo erased any hope of a fourth-quarter rally from the Salukis in the first 2:20 of the final period, scoring on each of its first four possessions — capped by a banked-in 3-pointer from Morrison.
- The lead reached as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter. Quite fittingly, White, Weinman and Morrison all scored in the game’s final two minutes before exiting to a standing ovation in the final seconds of the victory.
Inside the Game
- The win was Valpo’s first over the conference regular season champion since delivering Green Bay its only loss of the 2007-08 Horizon League campaign.
- With the win, this year’s squad matches the 2019-20 Valpo team with a 9-9 mark in MVC play – the program’s best since joining the conference. In fact, it matches the program’s best record in league action since the 2008-09 season.
- The win was Valpo’s fourth over a top-100 NET team in Valley action this year, joining the Beacons’ pair of victories against Drake and the home win over UNI.
- Valpo snapped SIU’s eight-game winning streak, while the 67 points the Beacons scored are the most the Salukis have surrendered in conference play this season. Prior to Saturday, SIU’s only MVC losses had come at Missouri State and at UNI.
- All three of Valpo’s Senior Day honorees scored in double figures on Saturday. Leading the way was Weinman, who finished with 17 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
- As usual, White filled up the stat sheet, hitting 3-of-4 from deep on her way to 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds, dishing out three assists as well.
- Morrison finished 4-of-6 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, for an 11-point night of her own. Morrison extended her program records for games played (140) and games started (136) on Saturday.
- Joining that trio in double figures in the scoring column was Frederick, who tallied 15 points, six rebounds and a game-high four assists in the winning effort.
- Earnest had a strong game off the bench as well, going for nine points and seven rebounds.
- Valpo enjoyed an efficient night shooting the basketball, going 10-for-21 (47.6%) from deep. It was the eighth time in MVC play the Beacons hit at least 10 triples, and the seventh time in those eight games they shot at least 40%.
- Meanwhile, Southern Illinois was just 2-for-19 from the 3-point line, matching the fewest triples by a Valpo opponent this season. The Beacons limited the Salukis to 31.7% shooting overall, the second-lowest clip by a Valpo opponent on the year.
Valpo (11-18, 9-9 MVC) finished the regular season in a tie for sixth place with Drake. The win over the Salukis secured the sixth seed for the Beacons, as they earned the tie-breaker over the Bulldogs by virtue of their season sweep of the series.
As the sixth seed, Valpo will have to wait until 8:30 p.m. on Friday evening to begin Hoops in the Heartland, as it will face third-seeded UNI in the last of four quarterfinals. The game can be seen live on ESPN+.