Despite a fourth straight double-double from Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.), Valparaiso fell behind late in the first half and could not recover as Northern Iowa defeated the Crusaders 67-49 on Saturday afternoon in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
For Braun, she scored a game-high 18 points while tying a season-high with 11 boards on her way to her 20th career double-double. She also moved into fourth place on Valpo's all-time rebounding list with 678 career boards and is now 15th with 900 career points. She was the only Crusader to score in double figures on the day.
Valpo's defense was strong early on, as the Crusaders kept the Panthers off of the scoreboard for the first seven minutes. Northern Iowa missed its first 12 shots from the floor. Valpo built an early 9-2 lead following an Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph's H.S.) triple, only to see Northern Iowa answer with 10 straight points to take a 12-11 advantage at the 8:49 mark.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.) put Valpo back in front by four, 19-15, with just under five minutes to play before halftime. The Panthers ended the half on a 10-0 run over the final three minutes, though, to take a 27-21 advantage into the break.
Braun led the way in the opening 20 minutes for the Brown and Gold, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds. Tara King had eight boards for Northern Iowa, which outrebounded Valpo 25-14 in the first half, including a 12-3 advantage on the offensive glass.
In the second half, the Crusaders cut the deficit to three with 15:52 to play in the game after back-to-back baskets inside by Braun. That would be as close as Valpo would get the rest of the way though. Two quick baskets, the second a triple by Jessie Biggs, pushed the UNI lead back to eight and the Panthers slowly increased their advantage the rest of the way.
Biggs led Northern Iowa (4-5) with 16 points while Megan Keefe added 12. Tara King grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as the Panthers outrebounded Valpo 42-28, including 18-6 on the offensive end.
Valparaiso (4-5) will return to the Athletics-Recreation Center on Tuesday evening to begin a four-game homestand. The Crusaders host Notre Dame beginning at 7:05 p.m. with the game carried live on Lakeshore Public Television as well as webcast at www.valpo.edu/athletics. The game will also be broadcast on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso).