Fans will be forgiven if they thought they were experiencing déjà vu while watching the closing seconds of the Valpo women’s basketball game against Loyola Wednesday evening from Chicago, as for the second time in as many years, junior Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) delivered a game-winning shot against the Ramblers as she converted a layup with 5.2 seconds to play to give Valpo the 57-55 victory.
How It Happened
- The last four minutes proved to be a microcosm of the game as a whole, as they contained five of the game’s 15 lead changes. Valpo took its first lead since early in the third quarter with 3:55 to play on a free throw from Frederick before Loyola scored five straight to go up 51-47 with 2:53 to go.
- Valpo came right back with five points on its next two trips, getting a driving layup from senior Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) and a 3-pointer from junior Carie Weinman (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South [Denver]) on consecutive possessions to pull ahead 52-51 with 2:14 to play.
- A second-chance basket on the Ramblers’ next possession turned the lead back to their side before White responded with two free throws with 1:23 remaining, making it 54-53.
- After the teams traded empty possessions, Valpo forced a Loyola miss inside of 30 seconds to play and White secured the rebound and was fouled. She split the pair of foul shots to push the lead to two points.
- Loyola missed two shots on its next trip, but got both offensive rebounds and eventually got to the foul line with 11.8 seconds remaining, hitting both to tie the game at 55.
- Valpo called timeout and advanced the ball to the frontcourt, where it inbounded and isolated Frederick at the top of the key. The junior drove down the right side of the paint and finished with 5.2 seconds left to make it 57-55.
- Loyola used its final timeout to advance the ball into the frontcourt, but Weinman knocked a pass to the wing away and ran it down for her fifth steal of the night to secure the victory.
- Most of the game was played within a one-possession margin either way, including all but 35 seconds of the first quarter. A 3-pointer from White with 1:49 to play in the period — her seventh point of the opening quarter — put Valpo ahead by two before the Ramblers scored five points on their last two possessions to hold a 14-11 lead at the end of one.
- Valpo scored seven straight midway through the second quarter on a pair of baskets by White and a 3-pointer from Frederick to earn its largest lead of the game, a four-point edge (20-16) with 5:16 to play in the quarter.
- The Ramblers responded with six straight to regain the advantage, but triples by Weinman and senior Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) in the final 2:30 of the half gave Valpo a 26-24 lead at intermission.
- Loyola gained the lead less than two minutes into the third quarter, a lead it held for the rest of the period as Valpo scored just four points in the first seven minutes of the second half.
- The Ramblers pushed their lead out to seven points — their largest advantage of the evening — at 39-32 with 2:27 to play in the third quarter. Valpo scored on three of its final four possessions of the quarter, including a last-second triple from freshman Molly Sheehan (Hinsdale, Ill./Benet Academy), to close to within 42-39 with 10 minutes left.
- A slow start to the final period saw both squads score just two points apiece over the first four minutes. Loyola pushed out to a two-possession lead at 46-41 with 5:44 to play, but Sheehan connected on a 3-pointer 21 seconds later to again make it a one-possession game.
- White connected on a layup with 4:14 to play to tie the game at 46-all, setting the stage for the dramatic final minutes.
Inside the Game
- Frederick’s game-winning basket was almost identical to her 3-point play to defeat the Ramblers at the ARC last season, both coming on drives down the right-hand side and finishing at the rim. In fact, both baskets came with exactly 5.2 seconds to play.
- Valpo improved to 5-1 in games decided by five points or fewer this year and is 14-6 in such games in Mary Evans’ tenure on the bench.
- Leading the way in Wednesday’s win was White, who returned from missing two games due to injury with a bang. White finished just one point off her season and career high with 22 points in the victory, going 9-of-12 from the field — matching her career best for field goals made. She added six rebounds as well to tie for team-high honors.
- Weinman was the only other Valpo player to reach double figures, notching 12 points. The junior also racked up five steals just one game after matching her career best with six thefts.
- Frederick attempted just two field goals before the game-winning bucket, finishing with six points and a team-high four assists, while Sheehan added six points and three rebounds off the bench.
- Freshman Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) matched White’s effort on the glass with six boards.
- Valpo hit at a 45.7% clip from the field Wednesday and was 7-of-22 from 3-point range while limiting the Ramblers to 35.6% shooting.
- The game featured a total of seven ties and 15 lead changes.
- Valpo has now split five of its six MVC series to date, the only non-split a pair of losses to nationally-ranked Missouri State.
Thoughts From Coach Evans
“I’m happy we found a way to win — that was what we talked about at the half, was finding a way to get the win. It wasn’t our cleanest or our best game, but our players continued to fight and continued to scrap the entire night. They made plays down the stretch when we needed to have plays, and I’m proud of them for sticking with it.”
“The last play, we went to a play we run all the time. We try to slip someone to the rim and see if they can get open, and if not, we put the ball in Shay’s hands and let her make a play. We’re blessed to have a point guard who is very talented and very unselfish. We trust her to make great decisions in those moments, and that was a great decision.”
“Grace had a huge night for us. Coming off being a bit banged up, she was really aggressive today and really got us going on the offensive end.”
“We knew when we signed her Molly was a talented shooter. She’s come in to our program, she’s been mentally tough and has done a great job learning quickly. She made two big shots for us and defended well down the stretch also. I’ve been really pleased with what she's brought to the table.”
Valpo (9-10, 5-7 MVC) continues its five-game stretch on the road to conclude the regular season with its series this coming weekend at Southern Illinois. The games will be played Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 27 and 28, and will both tip at 4 p.m. Both will be broadcast live on ESPN3.