The Valpo women’s basketball team matched its season best for 3-pointers made on Friday evening, with both senior Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [St. Bonaventure]) and junior Ava Interrante (McHenry, Ill./McHenry) hitting career watermarks from downtown, but it would not be enough to overcome MVC preseason favorite Belmont in the Bruins’ Valley debut, as the hosts came away 74-60 victors.
How It Happened
- After Valpo scored the game’s first three points, Belmont reeled off 10 in a row to go up by seven just over four minutes into the game. But Interrante drilled triples on consecutive possessions and Brown knocked down one of her own the next time down the court to move the Beacons within 13-12 less than 90 seconds later.
- A Brown 3-pointer with 49 seconds left in the quarter proved to be Valpo’s lone points the remainder of the quarter, however, as Belmont held a 9-3 edge over the final 4:30 to lead 22-15 at the end of the period.
- Inside baskets from freshman Ali Saunders (Depauw, Ind./North Harrison) and fifth year Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic) cut the Bruins’ lead to 24-19 with 7:33 to play in the first half before Belmont scored the next seven to pull ahead by double figures.
- Again, the shooting from deep by Brown and Interrante kept Valpo within striking distance, as Interrante hit once from downtown and Brown twice in the second quarter — the latter’s second 3-pointer of the period bringing Valpo within 39-30 with 1:42 to play in the half. But Belmont scored the final five points of the half to take a 44-30 lead into halftime.
- The Bruins extended their lead to 16 early in the third quarter, but Valpo held Belmont off the board for four straight possessions and took advantage on the offensive end, with both Interrante and Brown drilling 3-pointers in that stretch. When Saunders hit junior Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) with a long pass for a fast-break layup with 4:11 to play in the quarter, the Beacons were within 48-40.
- Valpo was called for fouls on its next six defensive possessions, allowing Belmont to go 10-of-11 from the foul line over that span as the Bruins scored 12 of the quarter’s final 17 points to lead 60-45 with 10 minutes to play.
- Belmont extended its lead to as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter before Valpo ended the game on an 11-2 run.
Inside the Game
- Friday was Valpo’s first game in a three-week span, as the Beacons last took the floor back on Friday, Dec. 9 at Western Illinois.
- The Beacons dropped their MVC opener for the fifth time in six seasons in the conference. Notably, all but one of those defeats have come on the road.
- Valpo went 11-of-27 from 3-point range on Friday night, the third time this year it has hit double digits from deep and matching its season high of 11 triples, previously reached against Bowling Green.
- The Beacons’ 40.7% 3-point percentage was their second-best of the season as well.
- Leading the charge from deep was Brown, who went 6-of-8 from the 3-point line for her team-best 18 points. The six triples tied her career high and set a high for her time at Valpo.
- Brown also moved into Valpo’s single-game record book, as her .750 3-point percentage is tied for seventh-best in program history with a minimum of seven attempts.
- Interrante made her presence felt from deep as well, setting a career best as she went 4-of-6 from downtown. The junior ended the night with 14 points — one off her career high set last time out.
- After entering the Western Illinois game with just one career 3-pointer to her name, Interrante has hit on seven 3-pointers over the last two games.
- Saunders ended up in double figures as well, closing strong to finish with 10 points — her sixth time in double digits this season. The rookie also matched her season high with five assists.
- Earnest pulled down a game-high seven rebounds on Friday to go with six points, snapping a stretch of eight straight double-digit scoring outings to open the season.
- After Belmont shot 51.4% from the field and 8-of-13 from 3-point range in the first half, the Beacons’ defense held the Bruins to 37.5% shooting and 0-of-6 from deep in the second half.
- Valpo committed 22 turnovers on Friday to just 14 for Belmont, as the Bruins enjoyed a 20-8 advantage in points off turnovers.
Valpo (2-7, 0-1 MVC) closes out the Valley-opening road trip at Murray State on Sunday afternoon. The game is slated to tip at 2 p.m. and can be seen live on ESPN+.