Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis. / Hortonville) knew it was coming.
From the moment the Valparaiso University women’s basketball team finished Sunday’s game at Missouri State, it was clear that the Valpo freshman would join the starting lineup and take on an even greater role beginning on Friday. When the ball was tipped to start that game, she was ready – leading the way with career highs in points and assists in a 76-73 victory over Bradley.
The story of this game may start with Frederick, who was thrust into the starting lineup after Valpo had its second season-ending injury at the point guard position this season, but it sure doesn’t end there. This story was about a team – one that handed out 19 assists on 25 made baskets to help three players finish with 20+ points in a delightful victory at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
How It Happened
- After Bradley scored the first basket of the game, Valpo went on an 18-0 run to jet out to a 16-point lead with 5:06 left in the first quarter. Fittingly, Frederick splashed in a triple to cap the early run and had already made three 3s by that juncture.
- Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) drilled her second 3-pointer of the quarter with 15 seconds remaining to widen the edge back to 14 at 27-13. Five different Valpo players had assists in the first quarter, while none of Bradley’s six made baskets were assisted.
- Valpo didn’t score for the first five minutes of the second period as the Braves (14-5, 4-4) cut the lead to eight with a 6-0 run. Frederick turned in the rare 4-point play for her fourth 3-pointer of the night with 4:59 on the clock, allowing Valpo to break through for its first basket of the quarter.
- The lead fluctuated between seven and 12 for the next five minutes until Valpo went into the break with a 38-29 advantage. Frederick had six of her team’s 11 points in that quarter, which saw Valpo go just 3-of-12 from the field.
- Bradley took another bite out of the deficit by outscoring Valpo 21-14 in the third. The Braves shot 67 percent in that quarter while Hamlet accounted for seven of Valpo’s 14.
- A layup by Gabi Haack with 8:18 remaining in regulation allowed Bradley to level the score at 54, the first time Valpo was not in the lead since the first minute of the game. Hamlet responded with a big 3 that put Valpo back in front.
- With 5:56 to go, Bradley took its first lead since 2-0 behind a 3-point play by Haack. Hamlet responded with an “and-one” of her own. Bradley regained a two-point lead, but Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) knocked down a huge trey with 4:28 left to put Valpo ahead 64-63. That sparked a 7-0 run to create a five-point lead with 3:15 left.
- Three times in the final three minutes, Bradley closed to within one. However, Valpo wouldn’t let the Braves get over the hump. Frederick swished in two free throws with four seconds on the clock to bolster the lead back to three at 76-73. The Braves advanced the ball to the front court, but could not get off a good look before time expired and a heave at the horn was off the mark.
Inside the Game
- Making her first career start, Frederick played 38 minutes on her way to career highs in points (21) and assists (8). Her previous career best in scoring was 19 vs. St. Francis on Nov. 17, while her assist watermark was five in that same game against the Terriers. Frederick made four 3s in a game for the fourth time this season.
- Hamlet led all scorers with 23, while Addison Stoller (Cissna Park, Ill. / Cissna Park) poured in 20 and was two rebounds shy of a double-double.
- This marked the first time Valpo had three players score 20+ points in a game in at least two decades. Indiana State had three players score 20+ on Nov. 23 of this season against Grand Canyon, while the last time an MVC team did so in conference play before Friday was March 4, 2017 when Drake did so against Wichita State. Valpo joins Drake and Indiana State as the only current MVC teams that have had three players with 20+ points in a game in the last 20 years.
- Hamlet dished out six assists, setting a season high and matching a career best that was established on Dec. 18, 2017 at Eastern Illinois. The team had 19 assists, equaling a season best that was set on Dec. 21 vs. Bowling Green.
- Valpo outrebounded Bradley 35-34, winning the battle on the boards for just the third time this season.
- Valpo beat Bradley for the first time since Nov. 28, 2006 (82-73) and just the second time in program history (2-8).
Thoughts from Head Coach Mary Evans
“We focused in on defense in the fourth quarter. During the timeout with four minutes to go, we talked about getting stops and scores. We wanted to do whatever it took to make that happen. Our players listened to a few adjustments we made and they went out and executed. They’re understanding how you win games, and that shows a real maturity of our team.”
“We wanted to try to eliminate Haack and Lasha Petree getting open 3s. They had 11 attempts and only made two, so I think we did a good job contesting most of them. Offensively, we came out and were extremely aggressive. We did a good job screening and pushed the ball well in transition. We attacked the basket and didn’t settle for early 3s. Our players did a great job working together to get quality shots.”
“Shay had to play a lot of minutes, so she’ll probably be sore tomorrow even though she’s only 18. She came in and did what Shay does. She’s a talented and gifted offensive player, and she found some shots early and knocked them down. She’s an exceptional passer, and she found open players and helped us get easy baskets late in the game by delivering outstanding passes on time.”
“It’s always nice to be home. You’re in front of your crowd and you have energy in the gym. On the road, there is often a big crowd for the opposing team giving them energy. Our crowd does a nice job providing that energy, and I think our players enjoy being home in front of their friends and family. It’s also nice being at home prepping for games. We’ve taken the two longest road trips in the conference over the last three weeks. That’s hard on our players’ bodies. We’ve tried a lot of things to help ease some of that, but it’s still difficult.”
Valpo (6-14, 2-6) will shoot for consecutive victories on Sunday as the team welcomes Illinois State to the Athletics-Recreation Center for a 1 p.m. game. The contest can be viewed on ESPN3, heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso or followed via live stats.