The Valpo women’s basketball team held a five-point lead over visiting Indiana State Saturday afternoon at the ARC with less than six minutes to play, but the Sycamores scored on seven of their next eight possessions to take the lead and go on to a 66-58 victory.
How It Happened
- It was a dream start to the game for the Beacons, who scored on six of their first seven possessions to go up 14-3 just 4:01 into the ballgame. Juniors Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) and Ava Interrante (McHenry, Ill./McHenry) combined for six points during the run, while senior Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids) had the other eight, including a triple to push the lead into double digits.
- Things quickly went from feast to famine for Valpo, as it was held without a point for the next 12 minutes of game time. The defense held stout, however, giving up just two points the remainder of the first quarter to lead 14-5 at the end of one.
- The offensive drought continued into the second quarter, but again the defense stayed strong, as it took Indiana State nearly six minutes into the quarter to take the lead and complete a 12-0 run which spanned that 12 minutes.
- The lead changed hands multiple times in the final minutes of the second quarter, with five points from Interrante helping spark the Beacon offense. The teams went into halftime tied 23-23.
- Five straight points from Earnest early in the third quarter gave Valpo a five-point advantage, but Indiana State came back with an 8-0 spurt to regain the lead with three minutes to play in the period.
- Brown responded with two 3-pointers in the span of three possessions, and when freshman Ali Saunders (Depauw, Ind./North Harrison) connected from deep in the final seconds of the quarter, Valpo held a 43-41 lead with 10 minutes to play.
- The scoring of fifth-year Maya Dunson (Dayton, Ohio/Wayne [Loyola]) kept Valpo in front in the first half of the fourth quarter, as she scored 11 points in the final period alone. A 3-point play with 7:42 to play made it 48-43 Beacons, and later in the quarter, Dunson and Interrante hit from downtown on consecutive trips to push the lead to 54-49 with 5:20 to go.
- That was when Indiana State put together the decisive run, however, scoring on seven of eight possessions while limiting Valpo to one scoring trip — a Dunson 3-pointer with 2:01 to play — in that stretch. Dunson’s triple snapped a string of 10 straight Sycamore points and brought Valpo within 59-57, but ISU’s Del’Janae Williams scored on consecutive trips to push the Sycamores’ advantage back out of reach.
Inside the Game
- Four Valpo players scored in double figures, led by 17 points from Brown, who went 5-of-8 from 3-point range — her second game in MVC play with at least five triples. Through four Valley games, the senior is averaging 14.3 points/game and hitting at a 57.7% clip from deep.
- Dunson set her career high by scoring 14 points — all of which came in the second half, 11 of them in the fourth quarter. She went an efficient 4-of-6 from the floor and hit all four of her free throw attempts.
- Dunson’s previous career best of 13 points came last season at Indiana State.
- Interrante finished with 12 points to score in double figures for the third time this year, while Earnest finished in double figures for the 10th time with 10 points.
- Earnest also led all players with 10 rebounds to register her fifth double-double of the campaign, while fifth-year Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic) set a season best with six boards.
- Led by Earnest and Pitts, Valpo outrebounded ISU 31-25 and gave up just seven offensive boards to a Sycamore team which outrebounded the Beacons by a combined 31 in the two matchups last season and grabbed 40 offensive rebounds over those two games.
- The +6 rebounding margin was the team’s second-best of the season and the first time in MVC play the Beacons have had the advantage on the glass.
- Valpo tied its season highs for both 3-pointers made and attempted by going 11-for-31 from the arc — the fourth time this year the Beacons have hit at least 10 triples. Valpo also matched a season high with 15 assists, five of which came from Brown to match her career best.
- The Beacons turned the ball over 22 times and forced just 10 miscues by the Sycamores. The 12-turnover disparity allowed ISU to hold a 20-6 edge in points off turnovers.
Postgame Thoughts From Head Coach Mary Evans
Valpo (2-10, 0-4 MVC) makes the short trip to the Windy City on Wednesday for the program’s first Valley matchup against UIC. Tip is slated for 7 p.m., and the game can be seen live on ESPN+.