Valparaiso (6-6, 2-3 MVC)
Games #13/14 - Jan. 30/31 - 1 p.m./3 p.m.
#RV/25 Missouri State (9-2, 5-0 MVC)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: After 11 days in between games, the Valpo women’s basketball team returns to action this weekend with a pair of games against nationally-ranked Missouri State, which enters the ARC perfect in MVC play so far this season. The two teams will face off at 1 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Previously: Valpo fell to travel partner Loyola at the ARC last Tuesday, Jan. 19 in a game which was moved up eight days by a 53-36 final. The Brown and Gold shot just 27.8% from the field and hit just one 3-pointer.
Following Valpo Basketball: Streaming Video: ESPN+
Radio: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) [Saturday only]
Live Stats/Streaming Audio: Available via ValpoAthletics.com
Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans (31-42) is in her third season as head coach of the Valpo women’s basketball program in 2020-21. Evans led the Valpo program to a remarkable season across the board in 2019-20, one that concluded among the nation’s top turnarounds from the season before. Valpo posted a 17-12 record in Evans’ second season at the helm, the 17 wins the most by a Valpo team since the 2006-07 campaign and the 10th-most in a single season in program history. Valpo improved its record by 10.5 games over the previous season in 2019-20, tied for the sixth-best improvement in Division I.
Series Notes: Missouri State has won all six meetings in the all-time series between the two programs, who did not match up before Valpo joined the MVC prior to the 2018-19 campaign. The Lady Bears won both games last year while nationally ranked - 81-68 at the ARC and 85-70 in Springfield. Caitlin Morrison scored in double figures in both games and averaged 11.5 points/game on 50% shooting from the field.
- Valpo has been picked to finish in seventh place in the MVC preseason poll, totaling 176 points.
- Valpo is in its fourth season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2020-21.
- The Valley was ranked eighth nationally in conference RPI in 2019-20.
...looking back at last year
- Valpo finished the 2019-20 campaign with a 17-12 overall record, a 10.5-game improvement over the previous year ‑ good for sixth-best nationally.
- Valpo jumped 172 spots in the RPI from the previous year, the largest leap for any D-I team in the nation.
- Valpo’s 17 wins marked the most by a Valpo team since 2006-07.
- The Brown and Gold finished in sixth place in the MVC standings with a 9-9 record - the program’s best finish since joining The Valley.
- The .500 record in conference play was the program’s first since 2008-09.
- Valpo closed the regular season strong, going 6-3 in the second half of MVC play.
- Grace Hales earned Honorable Mention All-Conference accolades, while Carie Weinman was named to the MVC All-Defensive Team.
- As a team, Valpo set the program’s single-season record for free throw percentage (.792), while Hales broke the program’s individual single-season record in the category (.890).
- Valpo’s 36 points was its lowest output since scoring 35 at Green Bay on Jan. 17, 2017. The four-point third quarter was the team’s lowest-scoring quarter of the season.
- The Brown and Gold posted their worst field goal (15-of-54, 27.8%) and 3-point (1-of-25, 4%) shooting percentages of the year. Valpo’s previous low this year for 3-pointers made was five.
- The singular 3-pointer was the program’s worst output from deep since hitting just one triple at Indiana State on Feb. 23, 2018.
- Carie Weinman notched nine points to pace Valpo in the scoring column. It was the first time since Dec. 29, 2017 at Drake that Valpo did not have at least one double-figure scorer.
- Leah Earnest contributed six points on 3-of-4 shooting off the bench.
- Grace White led Valpo with seven rebounds and four steals, the latter mark tying her career best, while Shay Frederick handed out a game-high five assists to move into ninth place in program history in career assists.
...versus Illinois State - Friday win
- The win came over an Illinois State squad which entered the game ranked #37 in the NCAA’s NET metric. Valpo now owns a top-100 win in each of the last two weeks and has four top-100 wins among its last six MVC victories.
- The 17-point margin of victory was Valpo’s third-largest in an MVC road game since joining the conference, only topped by last year’s wins at Indiana State and Evansville.
- Morrison was the standout in Friday’s victory, going for a career-best 21 points. The senior was 7-of-8 from the field, including 5-of-6 from behind the 3-point line — also setting a career high for 3-pointers made.
- Frederick backed Morrison up with an 18-point effort, highlighted by an 11-of-12 mark at the foul line, while White rounded out a trio of double-figure scorers with 11 points.
- With Frederick’s second assist of the game, a helper on a 3-pointer from Dunson with 2:45 left in the third quarter, the junior moved into Valpo’s career top-10 in assists.
- Weinman filled up the stat sheet in Friday’s win, highlighted by a game-high eight assists, soaring past her previous career high of five assists. Weinman also tallied eight points, five rebounds and a game-best four steals — her fifth game this season with four thefts.
- Weinman also committed no turnovers to go with her eight assists, the first Valpo player to do that since November 2014.
- Valpo outscored Illinois State by 17 (29-12) in the third quarter of the win, matching the program’s biggest advantage in a single quarter in an MVC game since a 28-point (35-7) edge over Evansville in the third quarter on Jan. 20, 2019.
- Valpo enjoyed its best game of the season from the 3-point line, connecting on 11-of-22 (50%) from deep. It was the Brown and Gold’s fourth time this year hitting at least 10 triples.
- Valpo also posted a season-best free throw percentage, going 22-of-25 (88%) from the foul line.
- Valpo’s defense was strong, as after allowing Illinois State to hit at a 44.4% clip from both the field and the 3-point line the previous evening, the Redbirds shot just 28.8% (17-of-59) from the floor and 20% (3-of-15) from deep.
- It is the third time this year that Valpo has held its opponent below 30% field goal shooting (Purdue, Western Michigan) and the fourth time Valpo’s opponent has shot 20% or worse from 3-point range.
- Valpo remains at home next week as it hosts Bradley Feb. 4-5.
- The Brown and Gold return to the road at Indiana State Feb. 11-12.
...at the ARC
- Saturday and Sunday are Valpo’s sixth and seventh home games of the season. It currently is 3-2 at the ARC after falling to Loyola last week.
- Valpo finished home nonconference play 2-0 with wins over Western Michigan and Xavier.
- This marks the fewest nonconference home games since the 1994-95 team also played just two out-of-conference games at the ARC.
- Valpo was a perfect 4-0 in nonconference home games last season and finished the year with an 8-5 overall home record - the program’s best mark at the ARC since 2012-13.
- Missouri State enters the weekend series at 9-2 overall this year and the lone unbeaten in MVC play at 5-0. The Lady Bears’ only losses have come against Wake Forest and South Dakota State.
- Emily Gartner led the MSU effort in its most recent game - a 61-44 win over Southern Illinois - with 15 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
- On the year, Brice Calip (14.7 points/game) is the Lady Bears’ only double-figure scorer, but seven different MSU players average at least 6.8 points/game.
Conference Scheduling - Wilder Than a Goat Rodeo
- After making it through nonconference play without a single game having to be postponed or canceled, Valpo has faced a myriad of rescheduled outings so far in MVC play.
- Only the UNI series (Jan. 7-8) has been played as originally scheduled so far.
- The first domino was the postponement of the series at Illinois State from Jan. 1-2. That series was rescheduled to Jan. 14-15, forcing the movement of the Missouri State series to this weekend.
- Jan. 14, it was announced that the series at Southern Illinois (scheduled for Jan. 22-23) was postponed until Feb. 27-28.
- Then, on Jan. 16, the conference announced that the Loyola game at the ARC, originally set for Jan. 27, would be moved up to Jan. 19.
- Valpo comes into this weekend’s series coming off another long break from competition, as when it takes the court on Saturday, it will be 11 days since it last competed against Loyola.
- This is the first time in program history it has gone that long between conference games in the heart of conference play without an interceding nonconference matchup since joining the North Star Conference prior to the 1987-88 season.
- Valpo did have a 13-day stretch between conference games in Feb. 1988 and a 10-day stretch in Jan. 1993, but both of those stretches included three nonconference matchups.
- This is Valpo’s second break of at least 10 days from competition this year, as it went 18 days between its nonconference finale at Wisconsin and the MVC opener versus UNI.
Claiming Top 100 Wins
- With the MVC a top-8 conference last year by RPI and this year a top-7 conference by NET, it gives Valpo plenty of opportunities for top-100 wins, and the team has taken advantage.
- Valpo opened MVC play this year with a win over UNI, currently ranked #67 in the NET, which is being used by the NCAA for women’s basketball this year.
- Valpo then won at Illinois State Jan. 15, which entered that week ranked #37 in the NET and is currently ranked #72.
- With that win over the Redbirds coming on the road, Valpo currently owns a Quadrant 1 victory, one of just three MVC schools with a Q1 win this year (Missouri State-5; Bradley-1).
- Valpo now has four top-100 wins in its last 1 MVC games dating back to last year, as the Brown and Gold earned top-100 wins over Illinois State and UNI in the second half of last year’s conference slate.
- Prior to last year’s win at Illinois State, Valpo had gone nearly seven years since its last top-100 win.
Facing Nationally Ranked Teams
- This weekend marks the third and fourth straight time Valpo has taken on a nationally-ranked Missouri State squad.
- The Lady Bears, who enter the weekend 25th in the coaches poll, were #21/19 in last season’s matchup at the ARC and #23/21 in Springfield.
- This weekend marks just the fifth and sixth times in program history that a nationally-ranked conference opponent has visited the ARC (#22/RV Northern Illinois, 2/13/1993; #22/16 Green Bay, 1/29/2011; #12/9 Green Bay, 1/28/2012).
- Valpo is in search of just its second win in program history over a top-25 team. The lone prior top-25 win came over #21/23 Purdue at the ARC Dec. 10, 2008 by a 71-60 final. Valpo has lost 23 straight games against nationally-ranked teams since that win.
Competing in the MVC
- Now in its fourth season as an MVC member, Valpo has turned a corner in being competitive within conference play.
- Over its first two and a half seasons in the MVC, Valpo posted an 11-34 conference record, with eight of those wins coming against just two programs: Evansville and Loyola.
- But since the midway point of last season, Valpo owns a 8-6 record and has defeated six different schools in that time frame.
- You can especialy see the difference in Valpo’s play on the road. The Brown and Gold are 4-2 in their last six MVC road games after starting their tenure in the MVC 4-19 in its first 23 conference road games.
Frederick Helps Out
- While her scoring rate has increased quite a bit this year, junior Shay Frederick has not let it keep her from getting others involved in the offense.
- The MVC leader in assists/game with 5.1 a contest, Frederick cracked Valpo’s career top-10 assists with a helper late in the third quarter Jan. 15 at Illinois State and currently ranks ninth in the category with 293 career assists - on pace to challenge for the #2 spot in program history in the category.
- Frederick has dished out five or more assists 29 times in her career and has led Valpo in the category in 47 of 73 career games.
A Normal(ish?) Nonconference
- With all that has happened this year, Valpo had about as normal a nonconference schedule as could be expected.
- All seven of the games that were announced prior to the season were played on their scheduled date, with no postponements or cancellations.
- With that, it was still a truncated nonconference slate, as Valpo played just seven games over a span of 23 days.
- The seven nonconference games are the fewest Valpo has played in a single season since first joining a conference prior to the 1987-88 campaign.
- It also is the fewest games prior to the team’s first conference game since the 1999-2000 squad opened Mid-Con play with a single game in early December after just four nonconference games.
- Valpo finished the pre-conference slate with a 4-3 record after going 8-3 in pre-conference play last year. Before last season, Valpo had finished at or above .500 in pre-conference action just once in the last 10 years.
A Winning Calendar Year
- While 2020 came to a close with the loss at Wisconsin for Valpo, the program still finished with a winning calendar year.
- Valpo went 9-9 in January, February and March, and then went 4-3 in November and December to post a 13-12 record.
- 2020 was the first winning calendar year for the program since going 20-10 in 2007.
A B1G Victory...and Another
- The Dec. 6 win was the second win in program history over Purdue, and the first since dropping the nationally-ranked Boilermakers at the ARC on Dec. 10, 2008.
- The win at Illinois marked Valpo’s first-ever win over the Illini, as the Brown and Gold were previously 0-4 in the series - all four losses coming by at least 19 points.
- Valpo defeated multiple Big Ten teams in the same season for the first time in program history.
- The victory at Illinois was Valpo’s first over a Big Ten team — or any Power Five program, for that matter — since taking down Indiana 64-52 at the ARC to open the 2012-13 campaign.
- After entering the season with just one road win all-time against Big Ten opponents, Valpo now has three such victories.
- B1G teams owned a 39-4 record in home nonconference games this year; Valpo is responsible for two of the four losses.
- Valpo is the first team with multiple nonconference road wins at Big Ten programs since 2017-18.
...and Then a Big Win
- Valpo rolled to an easy win over Western Michigan in its home opener, leading by double figures for the final 31 minutes en route to the 24-point win.
- The 24-point margin of victory was Valpo’s largest over a MAC school since defeating WMU 88-54 way back in December 1996.
Taking Down Power Five Teams
- This year’s squad becomes the third team in program history to defeat two teams from Power Five conferences in the same season.
- The 2001-02 team beat Wake Forest and Michigan, while the 2008-09 squad defeated Florida State in addition to Purdue.
- This year’s team is the first to earn two true road wins over Power Five programs, however.
- In all, the wins over Illinois and Purdue were Valpo’s ninth and 10th victories over Power Five programs in team history - see page five of the notes for a table of all 10 wins.
- The win over Xavier was the ninth in program history against a current Big East program, but victories over Butler were responsible for the other eight wins.
Erasing Double-Digit Deficits
- The MVC-opening win against UNI featured Valpo rallying from an 11-point deficit to win - its second win when trailing by double figures this year.
- Against Xavier, Valpo found itself down by as many as 12 points in the first quarter before eventually earning the win.
- Eight times in Mary Evans’ tenure as head coach has Valpo erased a double-figure deficit in a victory - last year’s team did so four times, while the 2018-19 team did so twice. Seven of those wins have come since the last time Valpo surrendered a double-digit lead in a loss (Feb. 15, 2019).
- The speed with which Valpo has turned around and gained a lead when trailing by double figures in both this year’s wins has been impressive - versus Xavier, Valpo went from down 12 to leading in just 3:10, and then in the win over UNI, Valpo went from down 10 to leading in just 3:05.
Close Games Go Our Way
- Edging out the Illini by three points and beating the Boilermakers and Xavier by five points apiece continues a trend under Mary Evans for Valpo to excel in tight games.
- Since Evans’ arrival, Valpo is 12-5 in games decided by five or fewer points.
- The Brown and Gold were 4-2 last year and 5-3 in 2018-19 in close games.
Big Ten Challenges
- Of Valpo’s seven nonconference games, three were against Big Ten programs - Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin.
- Valpo had played three Big Ten teams over Mary Evans’ first two seasons - Illinois in 2018-19; Ohio State and Northwestern in 2019-20.
- This is the first time in program history Valpo faced three Big Ten opponents in a single season.
- The games at Illinois and Purdue came back to back, the first consecutive games against Big Ten foes for Valpo since opening the 2006-07 season at Northwestern and Indiana.
Just Win, Baby, Win
- The 2019-20 Valpo squad had one of the top turnarounds in program history from the previous year and one of the best turnarounds in the nation.
- Last year’s squad more than doubled the win total from the prior season, as the 2018-19 team went 8-24 overall, while the 2019-20 squad went 17-12.
- It was the second-largest improvement in the win column from one year to the next in program history, trailing only the 2001-02 team, which improved an astounding 19 wins from the previous season (7-22 -> 26-7).
- Valpo’s 10.5 game improvement last year was sixth-best nationally, while the program’s 172-spot jump in the RPI was the largest leap in the nation.
- Valpo’s 17 wins made it the program’s winningest campaign since 2006-07.
- The wins came in non-conference play, where Valpo posted an 8-3 record – the best pre-conference mark in program history.
- The wins came away from home, as Valpo went 9-5 in true road games – the most road wins since the 2001-02 team won nine true road games.
- The wins came when the schedule shifted to MVC action, as Valpo finished 9-9 in MVC play – its first .500 or better record in league play since 2008-09 – in a conference which finished the season ranked eighth nationally in RPI.
- The 9-9 mark in MVC play was a six-win improvement over the previous year.
- Per WarrenNolan.com, Valpo’s record in games outside of quadrant 1 opponents was an impressive 17-4.
Threes and Thieves
- As head coach Mary Evans has implemented her preferred style of play on both ends of the court through her first two years at the helm, Valpo fans have come to know that they’ll see 3-pointers and they’ll see steals when the team takes the floor.
- Valpo paced the Valley last season in both 3-pointers/game (8.6) and steals/game (10.3).
- Valpo finished last year ranked 14th nationally in 3-pointers/game and 27th in steals/game.
- Last year’s squad made 250 3-pointers, second-most in a single season in program history - trailing only the 276 triples by the 2018-19 team.
- In Evans’ first two seasons, Valpo connected on 14 or more 3-pointers in a single game five times after doing so just eight times total before her arrival.
- Valpo tallied double digits in steals 16 times last year, highlighted by a 20-steal performance at Evansville - the program’s highest single-game steals total since 2003.
- With 300 steals, last year’s team finished the campaign eighth in program history in the category. The 2001-02 team (330 steals) is the only Valpo team in the last quarter-century to have registered more steals.
- A trio of Valpo starters have extensive streaks of consecutive games started which are ongoing.
- Shay Frederick has started 54 consecutive games dating back to the middle of her freshman year.
- Carie Weinman and Caitlin Morrison have both made 41 starts in a row.
- The three were members of a quintet which started every single game in the 2019-20 season - the first time in program history the same five players started every game.
- Nine letterwinners from last year’s team, including a trio of starters, return for Valpo in 2020-21.
- The three returning starters are redshirt senior Caitlin Morrison, redshirt junior Carie Weinman and junior Shay Frederick.
- Three other seniors return as well: Ella Ellenson, Marlee Profitt and Grace White.
- Junior Ilysse Pitts and sophomores Cara VanKempen and Zoe MacKay Zacker round out the nonet of returnees.
- In all, Valpo returned 68.5% of its minutes played, 64.2% of its scoring and 66.8% of its rebounding from last year’s squad.
Who’s New (Part 1)
- Five incoming freshmen joined Valpo’s roster at the start of the 2020-21 season.
- Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis.), Lauren Gunn (Fishers, Ind.), Jayda Johnston (Roseville, Minn.) and Ava Interrante (McHenry, Ill.) all signed NLIs in November of 2019 to join the Brown and Gold this season.
- Syria Butler (Dolton, Ill.) joined the program as a walk-on last summer.
Who’s New (Part 2)
- In an unusual year, Valpo has added three players to the team in the middle of the season.
- Maya Dunson (Dayton, Ohio) joined the program as a graduate transfer after graduating from Loyola in December.
- Molly Sheehan (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Katie Beyer (McHenry, Ill.) both joined the program for the spring semester - both signed NLIs in November 2020, but completed their high school graduation requirements early.