The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team tipped off the 2018-2019 season and commenced a new head coaching era on Wednesday night with the debut of Mary Evans at the helm. Host UIC, playing under a first-time head coach of its own in Tasha Pointer, used a strong third quarter to go ahead for good in an eventual 75-65 win at UIC Pavilion.
How It Happened
- Valpo managed to grab its first lead before the season even tipped off as the team converted one of two free throws on an administrative technical to start the game.
- Allison Schofield (McCordsville, Ind. / Heritage Christian) knocked down a go-ahead 3-pointer from the left corner in the game’s early stages, providing Valpo with a 6-3 edge with 7:37 to go in the first.
- The two teams went back-and-forth for most of the first quarter until the Flames went on a 9-0 run late in the period. The hosts owned an 18-13 lead through 10 minutes.
- Valpo tied the game by scoring the first five point of the second quarter, including a made triple by Hannah Schaub (Brooklyn Park, Minn. / Park Center) that evened the score at 18 with 7:46 left in the second.
- Hamlet took advantage of a friendly roll with a go-ahead trey with 1:29 left in the second quarter, then freshman Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis. / Hortonville) went 2-of-2 at the stripe to register her first collegiate points in the waning seconds of the first half to allow Valpo to enter the locker room with a 27-25 lead.
- UIC used an 8-0 run culminating with a 3-pointer by Tylah Lampley with 6:17 to go in the third quarter to build up its largest lead to that point at 38-29. Valpo climbed back within five, but then another 7-0 run by the Flames, this one featuring a pair of Brittney Byrd 3-pointers, pushed the margin to double figures at 45-33 with 3:58 left in the third.
- By the end of the third quarter, UIC owned a 53-40 lead. That period saw the Flames go 5-of-8 from beyond the arc while Valpo went 1-of-5, helping the hosts outscore the guests 28-13.
- Valpo trailed by as many as 15 early in the fourth, but the team fought back to within five with 4:14 left. Frederick was the star of that stretch, scoring five points including her first career 3 while coming up with a steal and a nifty assist on an Addison Stoller (Cissna Park, Ill. / Cissna Park) basket.
- UIC controlled the final stretch of the game to open the margin back to double figures and coast to the victory. Brittany Byrd was a key performer for the Flames, scoring a game-high 28 points.
Inside the Game
- Valpo was led in scoring by Hamlet, who made a living at the free-throw line as part of a 19-point effort. She knocked down 12 of the 15 free-throws she attempted. The 12 made free throws in a single game marked a personal best for Hamlet, whose previous career high in made free throws was nine on Dec. 3, 2017 at Longwood.
- Stoller’s 17 points marked a career high as she shattered her previous watermark of nine set on Nov. 19, 2016 at Illinois State. She led the team with four steals, also a career high.
- Fredrick’s collegiate debut was a success as she turned in seven points off the bench for Valpo. She also paced the team in assists with four and turned in three steals.
- Schaub served as the team’s leading rebounder, pulling down six caroms. She was two shy of her rebounding career high.
- Four of the five players in Valpo’s starting lineup combined to start three games last season. Schaub returned from an injury suffered in the second game of the 2017-18 season, Schofield and Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis. / Rice Lake) made their first career starts and Stoller made her second. The lone constant in the lineup was Hamlet, who made her 90th career start.
- Valpo won the turnover battle as UIC committed 21 to its 18, but the guests shot just 30 percent (6-of-20) from 3-point range.
The 2018-2019 home opener at the Athletics-Recreation Center will take place on Sunday at 1 p.m. against North Dakota. For those who can’t make it to the ARC, the game will be broadcast on ESPN+, 95.1 FM Valparaiso and have live stats available.