February 04, 20241st2nd3rd4thFinal
Stats at a GlanceVALPOUIC
FG Percentage.400 (24-60) .474 (27-57)
3P FG Percentage.483 (14-29) .333 (5-15)
FT Percentage.643 (9-14) .688 (11-16)
Offensive Rebounds1010
Defensive Rebounds2228
Total Rebounds3238
Bench Points1834
PointsEarnest - 20
Williams - 22
ReboundsEarnest - 7
TEAM - 7
Rimmer - 11
AssistsEarnest - 6
Middleton - 4
StealsGold - 2
Williams - 2
BlocksGold - 1
Van Weelden - 1
Dempsey-Toney - 1
Middleton - 1
Earnest Buzzer-Beater Lifts Beacons Over UIC
Sunday, February 4, 2024
Earnest Buzzer-Beater Lifts Beacons Over UIC
Leah Earnest delivered the buzzer-beating layup for the win Sunday.

A dramatic fourth quarter full of twists and turns Sunday in Chicago between the Valpo women’s basketball team and UIC was bound to come right down to the wire, and it took all the way until the final buzzer to determine the victor, as Beacon senior Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) got open for a buzzer-beating layup to deliver the 71-70 victory to Valpo.

While the winning basket was a two-point field goal, the Beacons used a season-best effort from behind the 3-point line to be in position to earn the win — six of which came in the fourth quarter. Nevaeh Jackson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) matched the program’s freshman record for 3-pointers in a game, knocking down six triples, while Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [St. Bonaventure]) hit four 3-pointers on as many attempts.

How It Happened

  • After trailing by as many as nine points in the third quarter, Valpo was within two entering the fourth period before UIC extended its lead back to six points with the clock inside of seven minutes.
  • A big 3-pointer from freshman Layla Gold (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) halved the deficit, and after the teams traded baskets, Brown connected from deep with 4:52 to play to tie the game at 58-58.
  • Out of the fourth quarter media timeout, the Beacons’ defense got consecutive stops while the offense knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers — the first from Brown and the second by Jackson — to force a UIC timeout with Valpo leading 64-58 and 3:09 remaining.
  • UIC got a key 3-pointer in its first possession after the stoppage to stay within striking distance. With the lead one point and less than 90 seconds to play, Earnest converted a reverse layup to push the lead briefly back to three points, but the Flames got an inside basket with one minute to go to cut Valpo’s lead to 66-65.
  • Following a Beacon miss, UIC’s Sara Zabrecky hit a 3-pointer with 24 seconds to go to put UIC on top, 68-66.
  • A miss for Valpo forced the Beacons into fouling with the shot clock off, and it took three fouls to put the Flames in the bonus. At the line, UIC split a pair of free throws with 14 seconds to play to make it a 3-point game.
  • Out of a timeout and advancement, Earnest drove and found Jackson in the left corner, where the freshman calmly drilled her sixth 3-pointer of the game to tie things at 69-69 with five seconds remaining.
  • UIC took its final timeout to advance the ball into the frontcourt, where the Beacons were called for a foul on the inbounds with 4.1 seconds to go. Again, the Flames split their pair of free throws — hitting the first to regain the lead, and then missing the second, forcing precious seconds to tick off the clock before Saniya Jackson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) secured the rebound and Valpo called its final timeout to advance the ball.
  • After review, Valpo was left with an inbounds 30 feet from the basket trailing by one with 1.5 seconds to play. Nevaeh Jackson triggered the inbounds and hit Earnest on the near side, 15 feet from the basket. Jackson’s pass eluded Earnest’s defender’s lunging stab at a steal, and with the back side cleared out, Earnest turned, took one dribble and had an uncontested layup at the rim for the buzzer-beater.
  • Valpo trailed by seven points nearing the midway point of the first quarter, but erased the deficit and then some in the span of five possessions, as Nevaeh Jackson hit a pair of 3-pointers around a Brown triple. UIC eventually led 18-16 at the end of the opening period.
  • The Beacons briefly tied the score early in the second quarter, but were unable to gain an outright lead. Valpo was within three with three minutes to play in the half before UIC closed the half with five straight points to lead 32-24 at intermission.
  • Earnest had seven points and Saniya Jackson six points as part of a 23-point third quarter which helped the Beacons close to within 49-47 with 10 minutes to play.

Inside the Game

  • Earnest’s buzzer-beater for the win was Valpo’s first since Meredith Hamlet connected on a layup at the buzzer for a win at Chicago State Nov. 16, 2016.
  • The basket capped a 20-point night for the senior, who hit the 20-point mark for the sixth time this season. Earnest also paced Valpo with seven rebounds and a career-high tying six assists as well.
  • Per HerHoopStats.com, there have been only three single-game performances by MVC players this year with at least 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the same game — Earnest is responsible for two of those, also hitting those marks in the win over Bradley.
  • All six of Earnest’s assists came on 3-pointers, meaning she had a direct hand in 38 of the Beacons’ 71 points.
  • Valpo went 14-for-29 from 3-point range on Sunday, setting season highs for both 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage (.483). The 14 triples are tied for ninth-most in a single game in program history.
  • Nevaeh Jackson was responsible for nearly half of the long-range connections, as the rookie went 6-for-9 from behind the 3-point line — coming up one point shy of her career best with 18 points.
  • Jackson matched Valpo’s record for 3-pointers in a game by a freshman with her six triples, last accomplished by Meredith Hamlet at Oakland Feb. 11, 2016.
  • Brown finished with 12 points, knocking down all four of her 3-point attempts. She is the second Beacon this season to go 4-for-4 in a game from 3-point range, joining Ella Van Weelden (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Marion), who did so in the win over Bradley.
  • Led by Earnest’s six assists, Valpo dished out 14 assists as a team in Sunday’s win — 13 of which came on 3-pointers.
  • The Beacons set a season low by committing just 12 turnovers. After averaging 20.4 turnovers/game through the season’s first 14 games, Valpo has averaged just 14.6 turnovers/game over the last five contests.
  • Sunday’s win came over a UIC team which entered the game with a 12-8 record on the year and with a winning record in Valley play.
  • It was the program’s first road win at UIC since a March 5, 2016 victory. Sunday’s game greatly resembled a mirror image of last year’s matchup at UIC, when the Flames trailed by three points inside the final 20 seconds before rallying to win on a last-second shot in regulation.

Next Up

Valpo (4-15, 3-7 MVC) opens the second half of Valley play on Friday, as the athletic department kicks off its All Sports Reunion weekend. The Beacons face off against Indiana State Friday evening at 6 p.m.