The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team fended off Eastern Illinois 73-68 on Saturday at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Junior Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) continued to light it up, accumulating 33 points to pave the way to the win. The Crusaders improve to 4-3, matching their best record through seven games since 1991-92.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders leaped out to a 20-5 lead thanks to an 18-0 run capped by a Franklin 3-pointer with 9:05 to go in the second quarter. Franklin had 12 of her team’s first 20 points and 10 of the 18 points during the run.
- The momentum shifted as Eastern Illinois scored the next 17 points to capture a 22-20 edge with 4:57 to go in the second quarter. Carmen Tallez knocked in a 3 to give the Panthers their first lead since the game’s early stages.
- The Crusaders scored the final five points of the first half as Georgi Donchetz (Savage, Minn. / Burnsville) sank a 3 and Hannah Schaub (Brooklyn Park, Minn. / Park Center) hit a jumper. Valpo took a 32-26 lead into the locker room.
- Valpo dominated the third quarter, outscoring Eastern Illinois 27-15. The Crusaders opened up an 18-point cushion with 1:38 to go in the third.
- The seesaw affair took another turn when Eastern Illinois outscored Valpo 27-14 in the final period, but the Crusaders held on to notch the victory.
Inside the Game
- Franklin became just the third player in program history to have at least two career games with 33 points or more, joining Debbie Bolen and Tabitha Gerardot.
- She finished one point shy of her career-high 34, set in this year’s season opener against Stetson.
- Franklin matched a career best with 12 made field goals, going 12-of-20 from the floor. She went 6-of-7 at the free-throw line, with the lone miss just her second misfire at the stripe this season.
- Franklin now owns the top two individual single-game scoring performances in the Horizon League this year.
- This marks the latest into the season the Crusaders have held a winning record since 2008-2009.
- The Crusaders won the battle on the boards 35-23 and hauled in 12 offensive rebounds against Eastern Illinois’ 15 defensive caroms. Valpo outscored Eastern Illinois in second chance points 18-6.
- Donchetz equaled a career high, scoring nine points for the second straight game. She also converted on two 3-pointers, a career best. Those marked her first made 3s of the season.
- Schaub matched a career watermark with nine assists, a total she most recently hit on Nov. 25 against Liberty.
- Freshman Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) tied a career high with nine points and set a career best with eight rebounds.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
- “Basketball is a game of spurts. As much as we don’t want to let the other team have as big of spurts like they did today, they earned it. I thought Eastern Illinois executed some things well in the second quarter. We turned the ball over during that stretch and that really hurt us. We did bounce back. We finished solid and earned the win.”
- On rebounding battle: “It’s been a big focus for us. I’m really proud of them for that. Especially on the defensive end, we did a much better job. It seemed liked everybody was involved and actively pursuing the ball.”
- On getting Amber Lindfors back after one-game absence: “She didn’t play as many minutes as normal, but she definitely made a difference. She played 20, which is more than I anticipated. The ankle sprain was a pretty bad one, and we definitely missed her in the last game. It’s nice to have her presence out there; eight rebounds is a big deal. We’re happy to have her back.”
- On Schaub: “Her teammates are putting the ball in the hole, and she’s finding players in position to score, not just passing the ball to pass it.”
- On Hales and Morrison: “We expect a lot of good things out of them. They’re both major contributors to what we’re trying to do.”
- On playing No. 1 Notre Dame on Sunday: “It’s cool because Green Bay just went over there a couple weeks ago and only lost to them by four. That says a lot about our league and where we can be. You’ve got to put the ball in the hole, and Green Bay went (48 percent) from 3. That’s not Green Bay’s typical game, but they knew their chance to win was going to be hitting shots. We can’t give Notre Dame easy points. To me, this is the level that they signed up to play. They signed up to play NCAA Division-I basketball, so why not play the No. 1 team in the country?”
The Crusaders (4-3) face the ultimate challenge on Sunday as they hit the road to clash with No. 1 Notre Dame (7-0). It will be the first time in program history Valpo plays the nation’s top team. The game can be seen on ESPN3 and heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso with Jordan Morandini, David Horak and Renee’ Turpa. Links to live video, audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.