Valparaiso rallied from a nine-point second half deficit to force overtime, but in the end it was Bradley surviving to post a 79-71 double-overtime win over the Crusaders on Monday evening in Peoria, Ill.
A sloppy first half saw the Crusaders fall behind by seven at intermission. Valpo committed 14 turnovers in the opening period, two more than the Crusaders had for the game in the opener against Northern Iowa on Friday.
Jen Brown's second three-pointer of the opening stanza midway through made it 16-14 Bradley, a lead the Braves would not relinquish before halftime. Valpo closed within 22-20 with 5:18 remaining in the half, but would make just two more field goals the rest of the half. Venessa Ostergaard hit a triple at 2:06 to give Bradley its largest lead of the first half at nine before taking a 31-24 advantage into the locker room.
Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) led the Crusaders with eight points in the first half along with Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.). Rietema also had five boards. The Braves shot 48.1% in the first half compared with the Crusaders' 45.5%.
The Crusaders came out of the locker room scoring the first seven points of the second half. Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) hit a triple to tie the contest at 31 and, after a Brave free throw, scored inside to put the Brown and Gold up 33-32 with 16:47 to play in the game.
The Braves answered with a triple by Brown. A 7-0 spurt by the hosts put Bradley up 41-34 after back-to-back baskets by Devyn Flanagan. The lead remained ten, 51-44, with 9:44 left. Valpo came all the way back. A Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) triple tied the game at 53 with 6:52 remaining and two possession later Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) gave the Crusaders the lead on a steal and lay-in.
Bradley retook the lead and the game went down to the wire. Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) tied the game inside with 1:25 left and Rietema put Valpo in front 61-59 with 38.9 seconds left. Flanagan tied it with 25.2 seconds remaining on a lay-in at the baseline, forcing the extra session.
The Braves jumped out to a four-point lead in the first overtime. Valpo fought back, trailing 69-65. Hochstetler made two free throws and Braun tied it with a minute left. The Crusaders had two inside looks in the final minute to win, but could not find the bottom of the basket.
In the second overtime it was all Bradley (2-0). The Braves scored the first eight points and made six free throws in the extra session outscoring the Crusaders 10-2 in the period to earn the victory.
Rietema led the Crusaders with 22 points and eight rebounds along with five steals. Braun posted a double-double, 14 points and ten rebounds while Gutowski and Myers each added ten. Hochstetler had eight points, seven assists, and five steals.
Brown led Bradley with 17 points while Skye Johnson and Flanagan each added 15 while Amy Peters tallied 11 for the Braves.
Bradley finished the game shooting 50% from the floor but committed 22 turnovers. Valpo turned the ball over just three times in the second half and overtime. The Braves also outrebounded the Crusaders 43-32, including 13-2 in the second overtime.
Valparaiso (1-1) will return to the court on Friday in Cincinnati, Ohio for the first round of the National City Bank Xavier Invitational. The Crusaders will face Kent State at 2 p.m. CST.