The Valpo women’s basketball team led at Drake at the end of the first quarter Friday evening in Des Moines, but the Bulldogs pulled away over the middle two quarters as Valpo fell by an 87-66 final. Senior Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind./Westview) became the 16th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point milestone for her career with a basket late in the fourth quarter to cap a team-high 15-point effort.
How It Happened
- Valpo started Friday’s ballgame on fire from behind the 3-point line. After missing its first attempt from deep, four different players combined to connect on four consecutive triples.
- Sophomore Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) became the fifth Valpo starter to knock down a 3-pointer, connecting on a shot from deep with 4:02 to play in the opening quarter to give Valpo a 21-14 lead.
- The lead was still seven points with 1:11 to play in the first as junior Addison Stoller (Cissna Park, Ill./Cissna Park) capped an 11-point first quarter with an inside basket, but Drake scored the final four points of the period to cut Valpo’s lead to 25-22 at the break.
- The Bulldogs scored the first basket of the second quarter to move within one before Valpo answered with seven straight points – including a 3-pointer from junior Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) – to earn its largest lead at 32-24 with 5:31 remaining in the first half.
- Drake went on a run into the locker room, out-scoring Valpo 17-2 to take a 41-34 lead into halftime.
- Hales made a 3-pointer 2:30 into the second half to cut the Bulldogs’ advantage to six points, but that proved to be the Crusaders’ lone field goal in the third quarter as Drake led 63-41 with 10 minutes to play.
- The offense turned around in the fourth quarter, as Valpo went 8-of-13 from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line over the final 10 minutes to outscore the Bulldogs by one over that stretch.
- Hales scored her 1,000th career point on a driving layup from the left corner with 37.1 seconds to play.
Inside the Game
- Hales is one of just 16 players in program history to score 1,000 career points and is just the fourth to reach the milestone since 2009.
- The senior led the way on Friday with 15 points, including three triples. She is now just two 3-pointers shy of cracking Valpo’s career top-10 chart in that category.
- Stoller finished the evening with 13 points, 11 of which came in staking Valpo to its lead through one quarter, and tied for team-high honors with three assists as well.
- Morrison rounded out a trio of Valpo players in double figures with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
- Valpo finished the night 9-of-27 from 3-point range after hitting five of its first six attempts from deep and shot just 37.3% (22-of-59) overall against the three-time defending MVC regular season champions.
- Valpo did enjoy one of its best free throw shooting nights in program history, going 13-of-14 (92.9%) from the charity stripe.
- Valpo forced 24 Drake turnovers, the second-most turnovers the Bulldogs have committed in a single game this year, but Drake shot 60% from the floor. Nine of the turnovers were Valpo steals, led by four thefts by sophomore Carie Weinman (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South [Denver]).
Thoughts From Coach Evans
“We played 15 really good minutes tonight, and then we stopped taking care of the basketball. We had five big turnovers in the last five minutes of the 2nd quarter, which led to three and-1s for Drake. But the fight was there and the effort was there all night long, and I was happy to see us come out and play a good 4th quarter.”
“I'm really happy for Grace that she was able to reach the 1,000-point milestone tonight. It's a wonderful individual accomplishment, but even though it's individual, it's the team working - even on that last possession, being unselfish to allow her to get in and try to get those final two points. Grace has worked really hard to improve her game - she's always been a really good shooter, but she's become a lot more comfortable off the bounce driving the ball, and that piece has really helped balance out her game.”
Valpo (11-8, 3-5 MVC) closes out the Iowa road swing and the first half of Valley play on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at UNI. The game can be seen live on ESPN+.