It came with a good deal more tension down the stretch than the last couple outings, but the result was the same Tuesday night at the ARC for the Valpo women’s basketball team, as the Brown and Gold edged Morehead State, 55-53. With the win, Valpo extended its winning streak to five consecutive games and matched the best start to a season through nine games in program history.
How It Happened
- Valpo held a six-point lead at 48-42 past the midway point of the fourth quarter, but saw the advantage sliced quickly to one point as the Eagles scored five points over a two-possession stretch to close within 48-47 with 3:27 to play.
- Junior Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) connected on two free throws on the offensive end to push the lead back to three points, and then the defense stepped up. After the teams traded misses, Morehead State missed three shots on its next possession and was unable to get a fourth attempt up, as sophomore Carie Weinman (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South [Denver]) came up with a steal with 1:40 remaining.
- Valpo took advantage, extending the lead back to five points as junior Addison Stoller (Cissna Park, Ill./Cissna Park) capped an 18-point night with her final basket, coming with 1:19 to play to make it 52-47 Valpo.
- Morehead State split a pair of free throws on its next possession, but also ran 25 seconds off the clock in the process to get it down to a four-point game. Valpo then ran nearly the entire shot clock before losing possession, but the Eagles immediately turned the ball back over to Valpo with 20 seconds to go.
- Not yet in the bonus, Valpo ran another eight seconds before sophomore Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) was sent to the foul line where she split a pair.
- MSU’s Breuna Jackson converted a 3-point play with 5.8 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 53-51, but Weinman stepped up as she was fouled after the inbounds and made two free throws with 4.7 seconds to play to make it a two-possession game. The Eagles scored a basket with one second to play, but Valpo was able to inbound the ball and run out the clock.
- Valpo looked like it might run away and hide early in the game, as it led by seven points at 13-6 six minutes into the game, thanks in large part to seven first-quarter points from Stoller. But Morehead State went on a 9-0 run to take the lead and the Eagles owned a 20-18 edge at the end of the first.
- Jackson connected on a 3-pointer for MSU with 6:53 to play in the second quarter to give it a 25-23 lead, but that would be the Eagles’ last point for a stretch of 9:03 on both sides of halftime as Valpo claimed the lead for good. The Brown and Gold scored the final eight in the first half, capped by a bucket from Stoller with under a minute to play, to take a 31-25 lead into the break.
- Valpo maintained a multiple-possession lead for much of the third period, and pushed the advantage up to nine points at 40-31 with 2:04 to play in the quarter on a basket from junior Marlee Profitt (Medina, Ohio/Highland). MSU scored eight straight to close to within one, but Frederick connected with Stoller for a basket in the final seconds of the quarter to make it 42-39 Valpo at the end of three.
Inside the Game
- Tuesday’s win extends Valpo’s winning streak to five straight games. It is the 20th streak of five or more consecutive wins in program history, but the first-such streak since the 2006-07 squad won six in a row Feb. 12-March 3.
- The last time Valpo won five straight games in non-conference play came back in the WNIT quarterfinal season of 2001-02, when the Brown and Gold closed pre-conference action with five wins in succession.
- Meanwhile, the five consecutive wins have pushed the Crusaders’ record to 6-3, matching the best start through nine games to a season in program history. Five previous Valpo squads sat at 6-3 through nine games, most recently the 1999-2000 team.
- Much like on Sunday, the Valpo defensive effort stood out on Tuesday. Valpo limited Morehead State to 38.8% shooting from the floor, including just 4-of-21 from 3-point range, and forced 22 turnovers by the Eagles.
- Valpo has now forced 20 or more turnovers in each of the last three games and five times overall this season through nine contests.
- 11 of the 22 turnovers were Valpo steals, led by a season-best four steals from Weinman. Frederick added three thefts as well.
- Combined with Sunday’s 37-point defensive effort, this was the first time Valpo has won consecutive games and held its opponent to 53 or fewer points since Dec. 29, 2012 and Jan. 5, 2013.
- Stoller led the way offensively for Valpo on Tuesday, finishing with 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line.
- While Stoller was the only Valpo player in double figures, it did receive eight points apiece from a trio of players: senior Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind./Westview), Weinman and Profitt – the latter hitting that mark on 4-of-5 shooting.
- Valpo matched a season-low with just two 3-pointers made, going 2-of-17 from deep, but took advantage of trips to the foul line, going 13-of-15 from the charity stripe.
- Frederick tied her career high as she handed out eight assists in Tuesday’s win – the fourth time in the last five games she has tallied at least five helpers.
Thoughts From Coach Evans
“The players have a better understanding this year of what we're trying to do defensively with our concepts. So we've been able to move quickly into our technique of individually guarding. It's just a lot of trust with them, so they can get up and pressure the basketball, because on dribble drives, our rotations are coming over a lot quicker than what they did last year. We're able to make a lot more plays and put our opponents in many more pressure situations.”
“Recently, we've played against some teams who are more similar to us, and what I've challenged our players with is that we're in a situation now where we're supposed to win. So now, it's making sure you go do that, and so it's been good to see that we've been able to do that.”
“There was a lot of physicality in the game from Morehead State, and that's not uncommon - that's very much what our league is going to look like, so it was good to see it today, because in three weeks when Southern Illinois walks in here, that's what it's going to be like.”
Valpo (6-3) looks to extend the winning streak on the other side of Christmas, as the team returns to action on Saturday, Dec. 28 when it hosts Chicago State at the ARC. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. that afternoon, with the game available on ESPN3.