Senior Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids) posted the highest-scoring half by a Valpo women’s basketball player in over five years on Thursday evening at the ARC, scoring 22 points in the second half, but it wouldn’t be enough to push the Beacons’ comeback effort over the hump, as visiting Murray State came away with a 77-64 win.
How It Happened
- Valpo shot just 26.1% from the field in the opening half as the Racers led from the jump. An 8-0 MSU run midway through the first quarter accounted for most of its 21-10 lead at the end of the opening period.
- The Racers led by as many as 21 points in the second quarter before entering halftime up 36-18.
- While the Murray State lead reached as many as 24 points in the third quarter, Brown helped Valpo keep pace by scoring 12 points in the third quarter alone, as the Racers’ lead was 60-40 with 10 minutes to play.
- Valpo came out with a strong 9-0 run to open the fourth quarter, buoyed by holding MSU scoreless on each of its first five trips of the period. On the offensive end, freshman Ali Saunders (Depauw, Ind./North Harrison) had a 3-pointer and a pair of driving layups during that stretch, while junior Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) went coast-to-coast following a defensive rebound as well as the Beacons were within 60-49 with 6:49 to play.
- Murray State extended its lead back out to 17 points, but Valpo had one more push ready to go. Brown scored seven points in a four-possession stretch spanning 1:42 to try to slice into the Racers’ advantage, and when Earnest connected on a triple with 2:30 to play, the Beacons had cut the lead to 73-61. But Valpo would get no closer than that 12-point margin the rest of the way.
Inside the Game
- After being held scoreless in the first half, Brown exploded for 12 points in the third quarter and 10 in the final period for a 22-point second half on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor.
- It is the highest-scoring half for a Valpo player since Meredith Hamlet scored 23 in the first half against IU Northwest on Dec. 15, 2017.
- It is the fourth time this season a Beacon has scored 14 or more points in the second half after going into halftime scoreless.
- Brown has scored double digits in a single period five times this year and is the second Valpo player to do so multiple times in the same game this year, joining Saunders, who did so in the first quarter and in overtime early in the season versus UAB.
- Brown is the first Valpo player to score in double digits in both quarters of a half since Shay Frederick did so in the third and fourth quarters against UNI on Jan. 8, 2021.
- Brown finished just two points off her career high in the scoring column.
- Not to be outdone, Saunders had a 20-point night on 8-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, as well. The freshman scored 10 points in each half en route to her second-highest scoring output of the season.
- It is the first time since Jan. 31, 2021 against Missouri State that Valpo has had two players finish with 20 or more points — Caitlin Morrison and Carie Weinman scored 20 apiece on that occasion.
- Brown and Saunders were the only Beacons to finish in double figures, however, as Earnest was next on the scoring list with seven points. The junior also paced Valpo with five rebounds.
- Saunders tied for game-high honors with three steals to match her season best.
- After shooting just 26.1% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, the Beacons rebounded to hit at a 59.3% clip in the final 20 minutes to finish at 44% for the game.
- Valpo’s 46 second-half points matched its second half against Southern Miss for the team’s highest-scoring half of the season.
- The Beacons also shot a season-best 92.9% (13-of-14) from the foul line.
Postgame Press Conference With Head Coach Mary Evans
Valpo (7-21, 5-14 MVC) closes the regular season on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. against MVC co-leader Belmont. It will be Senior Day at the ARC, as the Beacons will honor players Ilysse Pitts and Maya Dunson, as well as three other members of the program, prior to the game.