The Valpo women’s basketball team battled gamely with #23/21 Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. on Thursday evening, but the Lady Bears outscored the Brown and Gold by eight in a key third quarter in an eventual 85-70 MSU win. Junior Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) led all players with an 18-point effort off the bench.
How It Happened
- Missouri State got out to a 13-4 lead on Thursday evening, as Valpo was limited to two field goals in the first 6:30 of the game.
- The Lady Bears’ lead reached double figures in the opening period, but Valpo was able to erase nearly the entirety of the deficit behind five points off the bench from junior Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis./Rice Lake) and four from sophomore Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic).
- A pair of free throws in the final second of the first quarter gave Missouri State a 23-18 lead at the end of one.
- The Lady Bears extended their lead back to seven points early in the second quarter before Valpo reeled off seven straight, starting with another 3-pointer by Ellenson and capped by a runner from sophomore Carie Weinman (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South [Denver]), to tie the game for the first time since the opening minute at 28-28 with 5:28 to play in the half.
- A four-point play by junior Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) with 48 seconds to play in the half erased most of what was at that a five-point MSU lead, and a free throw with seven seconds remaining looked like it would tie the game at the break before the Lady Bears’ Elle Ruffridge hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Missouri State a 40-37 lead at intermission.
- It took Valpo over five minutes into the third quarter to connect on its first field goal, a stretch which saw Missouri State extend its lead to double figures with a 10-3 spurt.
- The lead varied between eight and 11 points for the remainder of the quarter, with the Lady Bears holding a 65-54 lead at the end of three.
- Valpo was unable to get any closer than 10 points in the fourth quarter as Missouri State closed out the win.
Inside the Game
- Thursday’s result was Valpo’s closest on the road against a nationally-ranked opponent since falling 58-50 at #12/11 Notre Dame in December 2005.
- Valpo was led by White in the scoring column for just the second time this year and the first time since Northwestern back in November. The junior tallied 18 points, hitting three 3-pointers and going 7-of-8 from the foul line, while also grabbing five rebounds.
- Ellenson had her second straight strong performance off the bench, as after going for a season-high 15 points last time out, the junior finished with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting on Thursday.
- Morrison added 10 points and pulled down six rebounds as well.
- Valpo’s trio of players averaging in double figures this season were limited to just a combined 15 points on Thursday.
- Valpo committed just 11 turnovers, its lowest total in MVC play this season.
- On the flip side, the Crusaders forced just 11 MSU turnovers and came up with just five steals in the loss. Both numbers were the team’s worst marks in MVC play to date.
- Valpo finished the game 9-of-22 (40.9%) from 3-point range, connecting on better than 40% from deep for the first time in the last seven games.
- The Lady Bears, who secured at least a share of the MVC regular season title with Thursday’s win, grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and converted them in 28 second-chance points.
Valpo (16-12, 8-9 MVC) faces a critical regular season finale Saturday afternoon at Southern Illinois. The winner between the Crusaders and the Salukis will be the sixth seed for Hoops in the Heartland and will not have to play until next Friday, while the loser will be the seventh seed and will have to open play Thursday in first-round action. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. on Saturday, and the game can be seen live on ESPN3.