The challenging run through the Missouri Valley Conference continued Sunday afternoon at the ARC for the Valpo women’s basketball program, as first-place Bradley – which entered the day among the top-80 nationally in RPI – paid the Brown and Gold a visit. Valpo hung tough with the Braves, trailing by just four at the half, but Bradley eventually pulled away in the second half for a 75-61 win. Junior Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) led Valpo and set a career high with 15 points in the losing effort.
How It Happened
- Bradley led throughout the first quarter, taking advantage of shooting 9-of-11 from the field over the opening 10 minutes. But Valpo forced five turnovers by the Braves to limit their chances, ending the first quarter trailing just 20-17.
- A seven-point spurt early in the second quarter extended Bradley’s lead to 27-19, but Valpo answered immediately with eight straight points – including a 3-point play by junior Marlee Profitt (Medina, Ohio/Highland) and a 3-pointer from junior Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) – to tie the game at 27-all.
- A fast-break layup by junior Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis./Rice Lake) gave Valpo its first lead of the game, as it put the Brown and Gold in front 29-28 with 2:16 to play in the half. The lead proved to be short-lived, however, as the Braves scored the final five points of the first half to carry a 33-29 lead into halftime.
- Bradley hit a pair of free throws to open the scoring in the second half before Valpo put together a quick 7-1 spurt – including five points from Morrison – to tie the score at 36-36 with 8:31 to play in the third quarter.
- Bradley responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to regain separation, and the deficit ranged from four to 11 points for the remainder of the quarter. The Braves eventually held a 59-49 lead at the end of the third period.
- Valpo attempted to cut into the Braves’ lead in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, twice moving to within eight points, but both times Bradley answered with a basket of its own. The Braves held the Crusaders scoreless for a four-minute stretch in the middle of the quarter to put the game away.
Inside the Game
- All four of Valpo’s conference losses to date have come to teams in the top-80 of the RPI. Bradley is the lone undefeated team in MVC play and is 14-2 overall following Sunday’s game.
- Valpo fell on Sunday despite out-scoring Bradley off turnovers (15-14), in the paint (38-34), on the fast break (15-9) and off the bench (14-4).
- Morrison paced the Valpo effort on Sunday with a career-best 15 points, breaking a personal watermark of 13 points she set just two weeks ago against Missouri State. Morrison also led Valpo with five rebounds as well.
- Senior Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind./Westview) continued her strong final season with a 13-point effort, including a perfect 6-of-6 afternoon at the free throw line.
- Hales has now scored 976 career points, moving past Agnieszka Kulaga for 18th place in program history on Sunday. She is just two points shy of Cheryl Wilbrandt in 17th
- White came off the bench to chip in nine points, four rebounds, four assists and a team-high three steals.
- White led Valpo defensively in the steals column as the Brown and Gold tallied 11 total steals – the ninth time in the last 11 games they have recorded double digits in the category.
- Sophomore Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) led all players with seven assists on Sunday and committed just one turnover.
- Valpo finished the afternoon shooting just 39% (23-of-59) overall and was just 4-of-22 (18.2%) from 3-point range – its worst effort to date in MVC play from downtown, as it entered Sunday’s game connecting at a 44.3% clip against conference opponents from deep.
- Valpo did continue its season-long trend of strong free throw shooting, going 11-of-13 (84.6%) at the charity stripe.
Thoughts From Coach Evans
“There’s some positives we can take away from today. We did a better job defensive rebounding again, which is something we've been harping on. I thought our players did a nice job really trying to get some drives to the basket; it just didn't seem like we could either get them to fall or get the contact we were looking to draw.”
“Caitlin's getting more comfortable in how we want to play. It's a lot like being a freshman: just trying to figure out the screening action, when to drive and when not to drive, how to move, and all the different things we talk about within the offense. I think she's starting to figure things out, starting to figure out her shot - she's such a good shooter, I hate to watch her go through some of the struggles during games, because I watch her in practice shoot the ball at a really high rate. As she gets more comfortable and her timing gets better, those shots will start to fall for her.”
Valpo (10-7, 2-4 MVC) concludes its three-game homestand next Friday evening when it hosts Loyola at 6 p.m. That game will be broadcast live on ESPN+.