Four Valparaiso players scored in double figures on Monday night, but the Crusaders dropped the nonleague finale at the hands of Bradley 67-56. Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) led the Crusaders in scoring with 13 points, while Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) achieved a career best with 10.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders owned a 13-12 lead after one quarter. They limited the Braves to 3-of-15 shooting including 0-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first 10 minutes. Half of Bradley’s first-quarter points came at the free-throw line.
- The Crusaders were held without a field goal for nearly six minutes in the second quarter, allowing Bradley to turn a 21-20 deficit into a 30-21 lead with a 10-0 run. After scoring 14 of the half’s final 16 points, the Braves took a 36-26 lead into the locker room. Chelsea Brackman came off the bench and scored 12 first-half points, eight of which came in the second quarter.
- Valpo outscored Bradley 16-13 in the third quarter to pull within seven points at period’s end. Amber Lindfors (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Elk Grove) had seven points in the quarter to propel Valpo.
- The Crusaders narrowed the gap to five points at 55-50 midway through the third quarter and trailed by only six with 1:23 remaining. Following a Haylee Thompson (Hailey, Idaho / Wood River [Utah State]) basket that made it 61-55 at the 1:23 mark, the Crusaders managed only one point for the game’s duration, while the Braves clinched the victory at the free-throw stripe. The Braves’ first-quarter shooting woes reared their head in the fourth, when Bradley went 2-of-12 from the field.
- Valpo was outrebounded 48-35 and outdone on the offensive boards 14-8. The Crusaders shot just 2-of-19 from beyond the arc.
- The Braves received a career-high 23 points from Anneke Schlueter and a career-best 12 boards from Vanessa Markert.
Inside the Game
- Hamlet led the Crusaders in scoring for the first time this season after doing so six times a year ago.
- Hales entered double figures for the first time in her Valpo career with the 10-point output. Her previous career high came in her Valpo debut on Nov. 12, when she scored nine points at Stetson.
- Donchetz, starting in place of the injured Caitlin Morrison, made the first start of her Valpo career.
- Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) finished with 10 points and has now been in double figures in 10 of her 11 games this season.
- Franklin moved into 19th on Valpo’s all-time scoring list with Monday’s performance and is now one point away from 900 for her career. She moved ahead of Heidi Diefenthaler (1992-1996), who finished with 896 career points, and has pushed Michelle Russell (876) out of the top 20.
- Franklin sustained her success at the foul line, going 4-for-4 to improve to 46-of-48 this season. With 46 made free throws this year, Franklin has already set a career high.
- Franklin was held without a made 3-pointer for the first time this season.
- Lindfors finished with 12 points and seven rebounds while notching five blocks. She is three blocks away from 100 for her career. Lindfors has scored double figures four times this season after doing so on three total occasions a year ago.
- Valpo won the turnover battle, committing 12 to Bradley’s 14. This marked the first time this season the Crusaders have won the turnover battle against a Division-I opponent.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
- “It was frustrating because we didn’t execute the way we could have or should have, but give Bradley credit because they were extremely physical and took us out of what we wanted to do. They forced us to play at a different pace and take some shots that we didn’t really want to be taking. We didn’t knock them down. Even when we got the shots we wanted to, we missed too many easy ones and didn’t give ourselves enough second-chance opportunities.”
- On Grace Hales: “She did a variety of things. She didn’t settle for the 3, she took the one 3 that was wide open, and she really attacked the rim hard. She got herself to the free throw line. We told her a couple different times during the game, she wasn’t in foul trouble, and it’s OK to go in there and be aggressive. Today was a really big learning experience for her, and obviously we saw bright spots from her.”
- On Rebounding: “There were a couple times where it felt like the ball was going to go in, and it didn’t. We’ve got the size and the people to rebound and give us second and third chance points. We got 15 second-chance points, but we needed to have more than eight offensive rebounds with us shooting 31 percent. We should have been at 15 or 18 because we didn’t put the ball in the hole. We should be crashing the boards and really pursuing like crazy.”
- Looking ahead to conference play: “We’re starting with two tough teams right away. Detroit matched up really well against us last year, and we played super to beat them in overtime in the tournament. Oakland is playing extremely well too. It’s too bad that we open with those teams, but at the same time, welcome to the Horizon League. We’ve played games that have helped prepare us for conference play. We’ve played a lot of tough opponents, and we know not to take any team for granted.”
The Crusaders (5-6) will enjoy nine days away from game action before returning to the court following the Christmas holiday. They crank up conference play on Dec. 29 at Detroit. The Horizon League lidlifter will tip off at 4 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Live audio will also be available with David Horak and Brandon Vickrey providing the hometown call. Links to audio, video and live stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.