March 14, 20241st2nd3rd4thFinal
Stats at a GlanceVALPOUIC
FG Percentage.547 (29-53) .458 (27-59)
3P FG Percentage.450 (9-20) .200 (2-10)
FT Percentage.667 (10-15) .676 (23-34)
Offensive Rebounds514
Defensive Rebounds2420
Total Rebounds2934
Bench Points2049
PointsEarnest - 23
Middleton - 22
ReboundsEarnest - 8
McCloud - 7
AssistsBrown - 3
Jackson - 3
Gold - 3
Young - 6
StealsTecca - 1
Jackson - 1
Jackson - 1
Young - 2
Rimmer - 2
BlocksTecca - 1
Jackson - 1
Gold - 1
Van Weelden - 1
Women’s Basketball Season Comes to End Thursday Evening
Thursday, March 14, 2024
Women’s Basketball Season Comes to End Thursday Evening
Leah Earnest led all players with 23 points and eight rebounds Thursday.

The 10th-seeded Valpo women’s basketball team got out to a strong start to its first-round matchup against seventh-seeded UIC in the opening round of Hoops in the Heartland Thursday evening in Moline, Ill., leading by as many as 13 points, but the Flames rallied to edge the Beacons, 79-77, and end Valpo’s season.

How It Happened

  • The offense was clicking early on, as four different players scored on the Beacons’ first four possessions to give Valpo a quick 9-4 lead three minutes into the ballgame.
  • It took Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) less than eight minutes into the game to reach double figures in scoring, as her 3-point play at the 2:18 mark of the opening quarter pushed Valpo’s lead to 20-11.
  • The advantage hit double figures for the first time less than a minute later as Emma Tecca (Tallmadge, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban [Akron]) knocked down a 3-pointer.
  • The Beacons’ lead was 26-17 at the end of the opening period as they enjoyed their highest-scoring first quarter of the season.
  • Another triple by Tecca less than 90 seconds into the second quarter bumped Valpo’s advantage up to 31-18.
  • Valpo scored just two points over the next five minutes as the Flames rallied to within six. UIC got to as close as four multiple times late in the half before the Beacons scored the final three points to go into intermission leading, 41-34.
  • It was more of the same out of the locker room, as Earnest and Nevaeh Jackson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) sandwiched 3-pointers around a Layla Gold (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral) driving layup to score eight points in a span of just over a minute and force a UIC timeout with the score 49-36 90 seconds into the second half.
  • It was over five minutes until the Beacons scored again, as UIC went on an 11-0 run to close to within two — a run snapped thanks to a 3-pointer from Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [St. Bonaventure]).
  • UIC drew within one at the 3:35 mark of the third quarter before Saniya Jackson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) hit a 3-pointer and converted a 3-point play on back-to-back possessions to push the lead back out to seven.
  • The Flames again closed to as close as one with just seconds remaining in the period, but Brown connected on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Valpo a 66-62 edge with 10 minutes to play.
  • Valpo’s first point of the fourth quarter came on a free throw 3:39 into the period, while its first basket did not come until nearly seven minutes into the quarter — a Saniya Jackson layup which snapped an 11-1 UIC run, a spurt which had turned the Beacons’ four-point lead into a six-point deficit.
  • The Beacons got the Flames’ lead down to three points twice in the final 90 seconds, but were unable to secure a defensive stop either time to get the ball back with a chance to tie the game.

Inside the Game

  • Earnest led all players on Thursday with 23 points — on 10-of-17 shooting — and eight rebounds. It was the ninth time this year Earnest has hit the 20-point mark.
  • With her performance Thursday, Earnest jumped into 14th place in program history in career scoring with 1,099 points. She also owns 641 rebounds, just one shy of 11th place all-time at Valpo.
  • Saniya Jackson posted 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, her 16th double-figure scoring effort of her freshman season.
  • Brown made it three Beacons in double figures in the scoring column, tallying 12 points off the bench.
  • Gold hit 4-of-6 from the floor for a season-best nine points and was one shy of her season best with six rebounds. Tecca matched her season high as well with eight points.
  • Valpo hit at a 54.7% clip from the field Thursday, going 29-of-53 — the program’s best single-game shooting percentage since hitting at a 55.8% clip against Illinois State Feb. 12, 2022.
  • The Beacons went 9-of-20 from 3-point range, the third time in their last four games they’ve shot at least 40% from deep.
  • Valpo was just 10-of-15 from the foul line, compared to UIC’s 23-of-34 night at the charity stripe.
  • While the Beacons were only outrebounded by a 34-29 final margin, the Flames grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and converted those into 18 second-chance points.
  • Valpo also committed 19 turnovers to the Flames’ 10. UIC held a 23-8 advantage in points off turnovers.

Inside the Season

  • Valpo’s nine triples Thursday bumped its team season total to 230 3-pointers, fourth-most in a single season in program history.
  • Earnest moved into Valpo’s single-season record book in a trio of categories. Her 494 points are fifth-most by a single player in program history and the second-most since 1994.
  • Earnest’s 16.5 points/game clip is seventh-best in a single season in program history, while her 180 field goals made ranks sixth.
  • Earnest became the first Valpo player since Debbie Bolen in 1991-92 to pace Valpo in scoring, rebounds and assists in the same year.

Inside the Careers

  • The careers of four Valpo players came to an end with Thursday’s loss.
  • Ava Interrante (McHenry, Ill./McHenry) made 78 appearances in her four years at Valpo, tallying 292 points and 138 rebounds.
  • Brown saw action in 86 games over her three years on campus, scoring 809 points. She surpassed the 1,000-point overall milestone for her collegiate career earlier this season.
  • Brown finished up her time at Valpo 138-of-341 from 3-point range, her 40.5% clip second-best in program history. She also ranks 10th on Valpo’s career field goal percentage chart (46.0%).
  • Tecca took the court 50 times for Valpo over her two seasons, scoring 151 points.
  • Jill Harris (Navarre, Fla./Crestview [Johnson C. Smith]) saw action in 12 games in an injury-plagued season this year with the Beacons, scoring 78 points. She finished out her overall collegiate career with 527 points.