Not all victories are created equal. Some wins are of the ho-hum variety, while other wins leave jaws dropped in their wake as fans try to process what they just witnessed. Friday’s Valpo women’s basketball game at the ARC was certainly a win of the latter variety, as the Brown and Gold rallied from down 11 points with three minutes to play for a heart-stopping 66-64 win over Loyola, capped by a game-winning three-point play from sophomore Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) with 5.2 seconds remaining.
How It Happened
- Valpo trailed by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, was still down 12 with 3:45 to play and found the deficit sitting at 11 points at 57-46 as the clock ticked under three minutes.
- Frederick connected on a pair of free throws with 2:52 to play to start the rally, and following a Loyola turnover, sophomore Carie Weinman (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South [Denver]) drove for a layup to cut the Rambler lead to 57-50 with 2:21 to play.
- Loyola answered with a basket on its next possession, and the teams then traded turnovers in quick succession before junior Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) knocked down a big 3-pointer with 1:31 to play to make it a 59-53 ballgame.
- Looking to extend the game, Valpo first needed to put the Ramblers into the bonus despite having committed no team fouls in the fourth quarter to that point. Four subs entered, and in a span of six seconds, the group had accomplished their goal, committing four fouls to ensure the next foul would send Loyola to the line.
- A fifth foul put the Ramblers at the line for the first time with 1:23 to play, where they split a pair. Valpo ran the ball down the floor and Frederick stepped up to connect on a triple, making it 60-56 with 1:11 to go.
- Two more Loyola trips to the foul line sandwiched a Valpo miss from the field, and the Ramblers made two of those four to push their lead to six points, but the advantage was quickly halved as Frederick hit junior Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) for a triple on the break with 52 seconds to go to pull within 62-59.
- Again, two Loyola trips to the foul line came on either side of a Valpo miss, but the Ramblers’ poor free throw shooting continued, as they hit just one of four to keep it a four-point game. Frederick then cut the deficit in half with a driving layup with 19 seconds to go, pulling the Brown and Gold within 63-61.
- Loyola split yet again on a pair of free throws as the lead was 64-61, giving Valpo the ball back for the first time during the rally in a one-possession game. Frederick chose to drive to the basket, where she was fouled and calmly connected on both freebies to make it 64-63 with 12 seconds to go.
- The Ramblers took a timeout and advanced the ball into the frontcourt, but that just ended up setting up the second-biggest play of the comeback from perhaps the most unlikely source. Freshman Zoe MacKay Zacker (St. Charles, Ill./Montini Catholic), who had played just 19 minutes total all year entering Friday night and had not appeared in a game with a final margin closer than 19 points, stepped up and drew a charge as Loyola was attempting to inbound the ball, returning the ball to Valpo with a chance to take the lead.
- It was Frederick’s heroics from there, as the sophomore drove the ball in an isolation on the right-hand side and finished at the rim through contact with 5.2 seconds to play to put Valpo in front. Frederick stepped up and hit the free throw as well to complete the 3-point play to make it a two-point advantage.
- The Ramblers called timeout to advance the ball into the frontcourt, but Valpo’s defense came up with yet another big play to close out the win, forcing a loose ball for a good bit of the remaining 5.2 seconds. Loyola regained possession in time for one final shot, but its off-balance runner was off the mark as the buzzer sounded to finish out the dramatic win for the Crusaders.
- Valpo led by two at the end of the first quarter, 17-15, as Morrison poured in 10 first-quarter points and hit all four of her field goal attempts, including a pair of 3-pointers. But the Brown and Gold went cold from the field in the second quarter, scoring just two points on 1-of-13 shooting as Loyola took a 27-19 lead into the locker room.
- The Valpo deficit remained in the mid to high single digits for most of the third quarter, but an 8-0 spurt by the Ramblers late pushed their advantage to its apex at 45-31. Frederick connected on a 3-pointer with 36 seconds to play in the period to bring Valpo within 11 points heading into the final quarter.
Inside the Game
- Valpo rallied from down double figures in the fourth quarter for the second time this year. In non-conference action, Valpo trailed Bowling Green by 12 in the final period before eventually prevailing in overtime.
- The 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter was Valpo’s largest since the women’s game moved to four quarters. Ironically, the last time Valpo rallied from that kind of deficit within the game’s final 10 minutes came at Loyola on Feb. 17, 2011. The Crusaders trailed that day by 14 points with 8:45 to play and went on to a 72-68 victory.
- Valpo’s largest deficit on Friday was a 14-point deficit late in the third quarter, the largest deficit it has come at any point in a game to win since rallying from down 15 for a 67-59 win at Youngstown State on Jan. 12, 2013.
- Not only was the manner in which Valpo won on Friday impressive, the opposition it took down in doing so was impressive as well. Loyola entered the game with a 13-4 overall record and among the nation’s top-100 in RPI, and while the Ramblers fell just outside the top-100 following Friday’s result, it has the potential to be Valpo’s first win over a top-100 RPI team since the 2012-13 season.
- Valpo also handed Loyola its first true road loss of the season, as the Ramblers entered Friday’s game at 8-0 on the road this season – the second-best road record in the nation behind only UConn.
- Friday’s game featured both Valpo’s lowest-scoring quarter (two points, second quarter) and highest-scoring quarter (32 points, fourth quarter) of the season.
- Frederick’s 3-point play at game’s end not only gave Valpo the win, it also ensured the sophomore matched her career high in the scoring column for the third time, as she finished with a game-high 21 points. Frederick also tied a career best with six rebounds and dished out a game-high five assists.
- Morrison scored in double figures for the third time in Valpo’s last six games, going 5-of-8 from the floor for 13 points while also adding three steals.
- Junior Addison Stoller (Cissna Park, Ill./Cissna Park) rounded out a trio of Valpo players in double figures with 11 points. Stoller also paced Valpo with eight rebounds and chipped in four assists and three steals as well.
Thoughts From Coach Evans
“[The charge drawn by Zoe] was her being a heady player in that moment. She's got really good anticipatory skills, so I put her in the press there to be our safety - someone who can read things with her eyes and make plays. And she did that, she read the kid coming off the screen to the basketball, she jumped out there and made a huge play. I'm really, really proud of her.”
“Halfway through the fourth quarter, we tried to do some things offensively where we were just going quick, give Shay some opportunities to get to the rim and create for her teammates. I think that increased our sense of urgency, and when this team plays with a sense of urgency, we're a good team.”
“We have really good people in this program - good people with great character, and they care a lot about each other. So they fight for each other, and I challenged them at the end of the third quarter to fight for each other - to keep working, to keep scrapping, and to control the things they could control.”
“At halftime, I tried to help our players remember that when they do things the way they're supposed to, when they play Valpo basketball, they're a really good team. I reminded them that they're a good basketball team, and they had to go out and do the things that we do.”
Valpo (11-7, 3-4 MVC) returns to the road next weekend, making the swing through the state of Iowa. The two-game trip opens Friday evening at Drake at 6 p.m., a game which will be broadcast live on ESPN+.