January 21, 20241st2nd3rd4thFinal
Stats at a GlanceBRADVALPO
FG Percentage.291 (16-55) .453 (24-53)
3P FG Percentage.250 (4-16) .429 (12-28)
FT Percentage.826 (19-23) .864 (19-22)
Offensive Rebounds107
Defensive Rebounds2431
Total Rebounds3438
Bench Points2735
PointsMcDougall - 12
Earnest - 24
ReboundsFitch - 13
Earnest - 14
AssistsAbo Hashesh - 4
Earnest - 6
StealsMcDougall - 1
Rouse - 1
Poock - 1
Wade - 1
Strozer - 1
Barkema - 1
Fitch - 1
Ziebell - 1
Earnest - 2
BlocksZiebell - 1
Jackson - 2
Bountiful Second-Quarter Buckets Boost Beacons Over Bradley
Sunday, January 21, 2024
Bountiful Second-Quarter Buckets Boost Beacons Over Bradley
Leah Earnest starred on Sunday with 24 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

The Valpo women’s basketball team entered the second quarter of its game at the ARC Sunday with a two-point lead over Bradley. Ten minutes later, the Beacons headed to the locker room 22 points to the good, as they exploded for seven 3-pointers and 33 points in all in the second quarter, sending them on their way to a 79-55 victory over the Braves — the team’s largest win in MVC play since 2019.

How It Happened

  • The entire first quarter was a one-possession game, with a pair of lead changes and five ties. The Beacons limited the Braves to 2-of-11 shooting and forced five turnovers in the opening period, but Bradley was able to get to the foul line and hit 8-of-10 from the stripe to keep close.
  • Senior Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) capped a 9-point, 5-rebound opening quarter with a driving layup in the waning seconds of the period, giving Valpo a 14-12 lead heading into the second quarter.
  • It was an innocuous start to the second quarter, although the opening possession was a harbinger of things to come later in the stanza as freshman Nevaeh Jackson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) connected on a 3-pointer.
  • A traditional 3-point play by fifth year Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [St. Bonaventure]) at the 7:16 mark of the quarter gave Valpo a nine-point lead at 23-14, but the Braves came back with five in a row to pull within four points with 6:28 to play in the half.
  • In what seemed like a blink of the eye, but what was in fact 1:19 of game time, the Beacons reeled off 11 points in a four-possession span. Sophomore Ella Van Weelden (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Marion) started things off with a 3-pointer, and on the next trip, Brown drove for a layup.
  • After a Bradley basket, one pass was all it took on the offensive end for Earnest to get an open triple from the top of the key. Valpo forced a miss on the defensive end, and Van Weelden drilled another trifecta to make it 34-21 Beacons and force a Bradley timeout with 4:53 to play in the first half.
  • The Braves scored on their first possession out of the stoppage, but that just set up a 10-0 run over the next three and a half minutes for Valpo. Van Weelden had the bulk of that run, knocking down two more 3-pointers.
  • Bradley snapped the run with a basket inside the final minute. Fittingly enough, however, Valpo capped the first-half scoring with a 3-pointer, this one courtesy of senior Emma Tecca (Tallmadge, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban [Akron]) on its final offensive possession to send the Beacons into the locker room with a 47-25 lead.
  • The result was never in doubt in the second half, as Valpo’s lead did not drop below 20 points. A 3-pointer in the final seconds of the third quarter from Brown put the Beacons ahead 66-37 at the end of the quarter, and Valpo led by as many as 34 points in the final period.

Inside the Game

  • Valpo’s 24-point margin of victory was its largest since beating Western Michigan 75-51 in December 2020. It was the program’s largest margin of victory in MVC play since a 93-49 win over Evansville in January 2019.
  • The Beacons held Bradley to 55 points, a season low for their opponents. The Braves shot just 29.1% from the floor, the lowest mark by a Valpo opponent since Illinois State shot just 28.8% in January 2021.
  • The defensive numbers are nice, but the offensive numbers from the second quarter are the fun ones. Valpo scored 33 points in the period, the program’s second-highest output in a quarter since the change to quarters in 2014-15 — only bested by a 35-point third quarter in the aforementioned Evansville game.
  • The Beacons were 9-of-14 from the field in the second quarter, including a 7-of-10 mark from behind the 3-point line, and hit 8-of-9 from the foul line. Their 33 points came on just 19 possessions, an average of 1.74 points per possession.
  • Valpo’s prowess from deep in the second quarter was led by Van Weelden, who hit four 3-pointers in a single period for the second time this year. This time, the sophomore was perfect, connecting on all four of her tries.
  • Van Weelden finished the afternoon with the 12 points she scored in that quarter, matching her career best set earlier this year in the fourth quarter at Southern Illinois. She did not attempt a triple outside of the second period, the first Valpo player to hit 100% from deep with at least four attempts in a game since Carie Weinman went 4-of-4 from 3-point range against Illinois State in February 2022.
  • Earnest posted a unicorn of a stat line, leading all players with 24 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. In single-game records dating back to the late 1980’s, no Valpo player has ever hit all three of those marks in the same game — that includes the career of Hall of Famer Debbie Bolen, who is tops in program history in both scoring and assists and who ranks 10th in rebounding.
  • Earnest is one of just three Division I players this season to reach all three of those marks in the same game — Iowa’s Caitlin Clark did so against Loyola, while Abilene Christian’s Bella Earle did so against California Baptist. She is also one of just two MVC players to post a stat line like that in the last 13 seasons.
  • Earnest matched her career highs in both rebounding and assists on Sunday and posted her fourth double-double of the season. Meanwhile, she was efficient shooting the basketball as well, going 7-of-11 from the field, 3-of-6 from 3-point range and 7-of-7 from the foul line, tying her career best for made 3-pointers and setting a new standard for made free throws.
  • With her 14 boards, Earnest moved into 16th place in program history, surpassing Jill Otto with 538 career rebounds.
  • This is the second straight season a Valpo player has cracked the 20-point mark in a home win over Bradley while averaging better than two points per field goal attempt. Earnest follows in the footsteps of Brown, who scored 24 points (8-10 FG; 6-8 3PT; 2-2 FT) at the ARC against the Braves last year.
  • Speaking of Brown, it was a big afternoon for the veteran. Prior to the game, she was recognized with a commemorative game ball for surpassing 1,000 collegiate points last month.
  • Brown started the game on the bench, but answered the call 4:05 into the contest for her first action since getting injured in the fourth quarter at Missouri State Jan. 4. Brown made up for lost time, hitting her first shot attempt, a 3-pointer less than three minutes after entering the game — the first arrow in what proved to be 17 points in her quiver on Sunday, as she hit 5-of-6 from the field, 2-of-3 from deep and 5-of-5 from the foul line.
  • While she didn’t quite make it four Beacons in double figures, freshman Saniya Jackson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) chipped in nine points on 4-of-6 shooting.
  • Valpo finished the game hitting 12-of-28 (42.9%) from the 3-point line, season bests for both 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage. The Beacons also went 19-of-22 (86.4%) from the foul line, a season-best percentage there as well.
  • Led by Earnest’s efforts on the glass, Valpo outrebounded Bradley 38-34 — the first time this year Valpo has held the edge in that category.
  • Valpo entered the game ranked 35th nationally in steals/game, but had a season-low five thefts on Sunday. The Beacons still forced 14 Bradley turnovers, converting those into 13 points.

Postgame Press Conference - Head Coach Mary Evans, Olivia Brown, Leah Earnest, Ella Van Weelden


Next Up

Valpo (2-14, 1-6 MVC) closed out a four-game homestand on Sunday, but will stay within the Hoosier State borders next weekend, making the trip downstate for a pair of games. The trip starts Friday evening at 5 p.m. CT at Indiana State.