The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team dispatched Grace College 71-49 on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The Crusaders improved to 5-4 on the season, achieved their best nine-game start since 2005-2006 and equaled their best nine-game start since 1999-2000. Valpo was led in scoring by Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) and Amber Lindfors (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Elk Grove), who poured in 17 points apiece.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders started the game on a 7-0 run capped by a Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) 3-pointer, but then the Lancers responded with a 7-0 run of their own to level the score with 2:06 remaining in the first quarter. Valpo captured the final five points of the quarter to hold a 12-7 edge after one stanza.
- Valpo went on a 9-0 run to build a four-point advantage into a 13-point cushion late in the second quarter. Freshman Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) had six of the nine points during the spurt. The Crusaders led 34-21 at halftime.
- Hamlet scored nine of her 16 points in the third quarter to help the Crusaders outscore the Lancers 21-16 and take a 55-37 lead into the fourth.
- Valpo sealed the deal with a 10-0 run in the fourth. The Lancers scored with 6:32 remaining in the game to make it 57-43, then didn’t notch another basket until the final seconds of the game.
- The Crusaders outscored the Lancers in the paint 45-24 and won the turnover battle for the second time this season, committing 13 to Grace’s 18. Valpo shot 42.4 percent while holding Grace to 30 percent shooting.
Inside the Game
- Lindfors’ 17-point output marked a career best. Her previous career high was 15 on Dec. 21, 2015 against IU Kokomo. Lindfors added a game-high seven rebounds in the victory.
- Hamlet’s 16 points was her best performance of the season. She went 6-of-9 from the floor and knocked down two triples while also hauling in five rebounds.
- Franklin scored 17 points to tie for the team lead. She went 6-of-6 at the free-throw line and 5-of-11 from the field. Franklin has led the team or tied for the team lead in scoring in eight of the nine games this season. She’s also reached double figures on eight occasions.
- Morrison chipped in 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting to reach double figures for the first time in her Valpo career. This marked the first time this season the Crusaders had four double-figure scorers in a game.
- The Crusaders have a winning record this late in the season for the first time since 2008-2009, when they were 9-7 through 16 games.
- Valpo is 4-1 at home, their best home start since 2012-2013, when first-year head coach Tracey Dorow guided the team to a 5-1 home mark to begin the year.
- Valpo now has five nonleague wins, the most since 2012-2013 and equaling the most since joining the Horizon League. With still two nonleague games remaining, Valpo has already matched the most nonleague victories since 2006-2007, when it notched six nonconference triumphs in their first season in the Mid-Content Conference.
- The Crusaders have had a better shooting percentage than their opponent in eight of the nine games this season, with the only exception coming against No. 1 Notre Dame.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
- “I was really proud of the way we moved the ball better. I thought we turned the ball over more than what we wanted to see, but a lot of the mistakes we made were being aggressive. I’m a little bit disappointed in our field-goal percentage for that first quarter. I thought we would shoot the ball a little bit better today, but at the same time I feel like we played hard. We did a lot of good things. It’s nice to come out with a win.”
- On the start: “We talked about not settling for 3s. I thought we took too many 3s because they didn’t have much size inside. I’m proud of the effort we had. We pursued the ball relatively well, and we talked about the times we didn’t. We’ve got to do a better job going into tomorrow.”
- On the first nine game of the season: “I think we’re battling. It’s hard because you go from traveling on the road, to home, to road and we’re getting ready for exams. It seems like it’s been a really tough stretch for us as far as the date and time of the games. At the same time, I think it’s going to help us settle in and do the things we need to do. All this is to prepare for the Horizon League. It’s done what we wanted it to do. We’re playing some really good opponents. Grace is going to do a really nice job all season and they’re going to have a great year.
The Crusaders (5-4) will hit the road on Saturday evening and return to the court on Sunday at 1 p.m. Central Time against Indiana at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The game will be available via BTN Plus (subscription only) and can be heard on Valparaiso’s flagship radio station, 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Jordan Morandini will have the radio call, with Brandon Vickrey providing color commentary. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.