The Valpo women’s basketball team battled back after falling behind with a tough offensive start to Wednesday night’s game at the ARC against visiting Western Michigan, but the Beacons were unable to complete a comeback, falling to the Broncos by a 68-62 final.
How It Happened
- Fifth-year guard Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic) scored a follow-up basket a minute into the game to give Valpo an early lead, but the edge was erased by Western Michigan mere seconds later to start an 11-0 run for the Broncos. Pitts’ bucket proved to be the Beacons’ lone field goal in the game’s first seven minutes.
- Despite surrendering the run, a quick five-point spurt on a 3-point play from junior Jayda Johnston (Roseville, Minn./Roseville Area) and a basket by junior Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) brought Valpo within five points with 1:47 to play in the opening quarter before WMU scored the period’s final two baskets to lead 20-11 at the end of 10 minutes.
- The two squads played an even second quarter, both teams scoring 14 points in the period as the Broncos led 34-25 at halftime.
- WMU extended its lead to 13 points at 46-33 at the midway point of the third quarter, but Valpo came back with an 8-0 run to slice the edge to five points. Senior Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [Saint Bonaventure]) knocked down a triple during the run, while freshman Ali Saunders (Depauw, Ind./North Harrison) and Johnston had baskets in that stretch as well as the Beacons closed to within 46-41 with 2:40 to play in the quarter.
- The Broncos responded with the final seven points of the period, however, to extend their advantage back to 53-41 with 10 minutes to play.
- Western Michigan led by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter and held a 60-47 lead to 5:30 to play. The Beacons’ defense stepped up, however, forcing five straight empty possessions from the Broncos over a span of nearly five minutes.
- On the offensive end, Brown drilled another 3-pointer and Earnest had drives and finishes on back-to-back trips to bring Valpo within 60-54 with 3:10 to play. But with an opportunity to climb even closer, the Beacons committed turnovers on their next three possessions — the last a charge call which wiped out a potential and-1 opportunity with 85 seconds to play — and would get no closer the rest of the way.
Inside the Game
- Brown led the way for Valpo offensively, finishing with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting — including 4-of-5 from 3-point range. The senior, who also grabbed five rebounds, tallied at least 20 points for the fourth time in a Valpo uniform.
- Earnest extended her streak of double-figure scoring games to open the season to seven straight with 12 points on Wednesday while pulling down a team-high seven rebounds as well.
- Pitts posted a career high in the scoring column as she hit 5-of-9 from the floor for 11 points. She filled up the stat sheet as well with four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
- Johnston hit 2-of-3 from the floor as she contributed six points and three rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench.
- Valpo hit at a 50% clip from the field (24-of-48) on Wednesday and was 5-of-13 (38.5%) from 3-point range. Both percentages were the team’s second-best marks of the season.
- Meanwhile, the Beacons held WMU to 36.1% shooting (22-of-61) and just 4-of-24 (16.7%) from 3-point range, both of which were the second-lowest by a Valpo opponent this season.
- The Broncos secured 21 offensive rebounds to just nine offensive boards for Valpo, while WMU also held a +7 edge in turnover margin (22-15).
Postgame Press Conference With Mary Evans, Olivia Brown and Jayda Johnston
Valpo (2-5) will aim at snapping its losing streak with one final game before final exams, as the Beacons hit the road to play at Western Illinois Friday evening at 6 p.m.