Valparaiso (0-2, 0-0 MVC)
Game #3 - November 16, 2021 - 6 p.m. ET
at Michigan State (2-0, 0-0 B1G)
Breslin Center (14,797) - East Lansing, Mich.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: One season after earning a pair of victories on the road over Big Ten teams in non-conference play, this year’s Valpo women’s basketball team gets its shot at a B1G opponent as the Beacons travel to Michigan State for a Tuesday evening tipoff.
Previously: Valpo had a 10-point third-quarter lead against defending MAC Tournament champions Central Michigan at the ARC on Sunday afternoon and still led by five with 10 minutes to play, but the Chippewas outscored the Beacons by nine in the fourth quarter to earn a 65-61 victory. Sophomore Leah Earnest had a career day, pouring in 17 points off the bench.
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Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans is in her fourth year at the helm of the program in 2021-22 and owns a record of 37-51. Evans has made an immediate impact on the program in her first three years, raising the team’s level of play to be competitive in a strong Missouri Valley Conference. Evans’ preferred style of play has been a big part of the program’s turnaround, as Valpo has led the MVC in 3-pointers made per game and in steals per game in each of the last two seasons.
Series Notes: This is the first meeting on the hardwood between the two programs. Valpo did play in a tournament Michigan State hosted in December 1993, but did not match up with the Spartans.
- Valpo has been picked to finish in sixth place in the MVC preseason poll, totaling 208 points - just one point shy of fifth place.
- Valpo is in its fifth season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2021-22.
- The Valley was ranked seventh nationally in conference NET in 2020-21 and was eighth nationally in conference RPI in 2019-20.
...looking back at last year
- Valpo posted a 12-13 overall record during the 2020-21 season and went 7-9 in Missouri Valley Conference play.
- Valpo finished the regular season in seventh place in the MVC standings.
- Included among Valpo’s 12 victories were wins at Illinois and at Purdue, the program’s first Power Five wins since 2012-13.
- Valpo closed the season with a NET of 122 - the program’s best final NET/RPI ranking since the 2003-04 campaign.
- Shay Frederick was a First Team All-MVC honoree as she led the Valley in assists and ranked sixth in scoring.
- Carie Weinman earned Honorable Mention All-MVC notice and repeated on the All-Defensive Team as she led the Valley in steals for a second straight season.
...versus Central Michigan
- CMU led by six points with under three minutes to play in the first half, but Valpo ended the half on an 8-0 run to lead 29-27 at intermission.
- The Beacons scored on each of their first six field goal attempts of the second half and extended their lead to 45-35 with 4:44 to play in the third quarter.
- The Chippewas outscored Valpo 25-8 over the next 11 minutes, however, to pull ahead 60-53 with under four minutes remaining.
- Valpo got to as close as two points in the final minute and had a 3-point attempt to tie the game in the final 30 seconds, but was unable to complete the comeback.
- The play of Leah Earnest stood out on Sunday. The sophomore came off the bench to hit 7-of-9 from the field for a game-high 17 points, setting a new career best.
- Earnest also grabbed six rebounds, one off team-high honors as Grace White secured seven boards.
- After turning the ball over 20 times in the season opener, Valpo committed just seven miscues on Sunday. The Beacons were a +12 in the turnover column and outscored CMU off turnovers, 15-4.
- The Chippewas secured 18 offensive rebounds to Valpo’s nine and owned an 18-5 advantage in second chance points.
- Valpo never held an outright lead on Wednesday, as Miami went on a 7-0 run early in the first quarter to take control.
- The RedHawks led by nine at the end of the first, by 22 at intermission and by 33 at the end of three quarters.
- Valpo shot 47.9% (23-for-48) from the floor, but was just 7-for-23 (30.4%) from the 3-point line. Meanwhile, the RedHawks hit at a 51.4% clip (38-for-74) and claimed 20 offensive rebounds, turning them into 20 second-chance points.
- Carie Weinman led the Valpo offense with 12 points, while Leah Earnest and Maya Dunson scored nine points each.
- The stretch of five straight road games continues on Sunday at Xavier.
- Valpo then makes a same-day trip to UIC on Tuesday heading into the Thanksgiving holiday.
...on the road
- Tuesday marks the first of seven non-conference road games and 16 road games in all for Valpo this season.
- Valpo has finished at or above .500 in each of the last two seasons in true road games, going 6-6 on the road last year and 9-5 in 2019-20.
- Michigan State posted home wins over Morehead State and Niagara in its first two games of the season.
- The Spartans went 15-9 last season and earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.
- MSU’s returnees are highlighted by senior guard Nia Clouden, who averaged 18.7 points and 3.9 assists per game last season. Clouden was a member of the preseason All-Big Ten team and earned a spot on the Nancy Lieberman Award preseason watch list.
Get Accustomed to the Road
- Valpo’s next five games will be true road contests, starting Tuesday at Michigan State and concluding Sunday, Dec. 5 at Bowling Green.
- Interestingly, none of them are part of multi-game trips - they are five separate single-game trips.
- It is the first time Valpo will play five consecutive true road games since...the end of the regular season last year, as it closed the MVC slate with one game at Loyola and two games each at Southern Illinois and at Drake.
- It is the first time in program history Valpo will play five consecutive true road games in pre-conference play.
- Valpo last played five straight away from home in pre-conference play in November/December 2013. That year’s squad had road games at Tennessee Tech, Florida International and Toledo, as well as neutral-site games, hosted by the latter two schools, against Montana State and Chicago State.
Taking Advantage of B1G Opportunities
- Valpo heads into Tuesday’s game with a chance to earn its third road win against a Big Ten team in the last two years.
- Last year’s Valpo team acquitted itself quite well in its three road games at Big Ten schools, defeating Illinois and Purdue and falling to Wisconsin in overtime.
- Caitlin Morrison scored the go-ahead basket with 42.8 seconds to play in Valpo’s 62-59 win at Illinois.
- Grace White had 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists against the Illini, while Carie Weinman tallied 16 points.
- White scored baskets on back-to-back possessions in the final 75 seconds in the 52-47 win at Purdue after the Boilermakers had cut Valpo’s lead to one point.
- White led the way with 20 points, while Cara VanKempen scored 10 second-half points.
- Shay Frederick drove for a layup with 1.3 seconds left in regulation to force overtime in Valpo’s 89-82 loss at Wisconsin.
- Frederick scored a then career-high 27 points in her return to her home state, including seven 3-pointers. Morrison added 14 points, while White tallied 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Just Win, Baby, Win
- The last two seasons have featured a combined 29 wins for Valpo, including many notable victories.
- The 2020-21 squad counted some big wins among its 12 victories, including a pair of literal B1G wins, as the Brown and Gold beat multiple Big Ten teams in the same season for the first time in program history.
- Entering the season without a win over a Power Five program since 2012-13, Valpo won at Illinois for its first-ever win over the Illini, and followed four days later with a road win at Purdue - the second win in program history over the Boilermakers.
- Valpo became the first women’s basketball program with multiple nonconference road wins at Big Ten programs since 2017-18.
- The team picked up some big wins once the schedule flipped to Missouri Valley Conference play as well last season, as three of Valpo’s seven conference victories came over teams in the top-100 of the NET.
- 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. It 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 ranked sixth nationally.
- Valpo’s 17 wins in 2019-20 made it the program’s winningest campaign since 2006-07.
- The wins in 2019-20 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 2019-20 9-9 in MVC play – its first .500 or better record in league play since 2008-09.
- In her time at the helm of the Valpo program, head coach Mary Evans’ teams have become known for their propensity to shoot 3-pointers.
- Evans’ first three seasons at the helm have seen Valpo’s top-3 single-season total 3-pointers made, including a program-record 276 in her first season in 2018-19 - a mark which ranks seventh in MVC history.
- Valpo has ranked among the top-25 in the nation in 3-pointers/game all three years, with the 2020-21 squad setting a program single-season record by averaging 9.0 triples/game.
- Prior to Evans’ arrival, Valpo had made 14 or more 3-pointers in a game just nine times in program history.
- In the three seasons with her at the helm, Valpo owns nine more games with 14+ triples, including twice matching the program single-game record of 17.
- The style of play isn’t a surprise if you follow the coaching tree. Evans coached under Bob Boldon at Ohio for five years before getting the head job at Valpo, and Boldon was a former assistant coach at FGCU under their legendary head coach, Karl Smesko, whose teams have ranked among the top-5 in the nation in 3-pointers made in each of the last 10 years.
- As much as the offensive end has been highlighted by the 3-point numbers under Evans, the defensive side has seen prolific steal numbers over the last three seasons.
- Valpo has averaged at least 8.9 steals/game in each of Evans’ three seasons.
- Each of the last two years has seen Valpo rank among the top-40 teams nationally in steals/game.
- Carie Weinman has led the MVC in steals in each of the last two seasons. She ranked 16th nationally last year, averaging 2.9 steals/game.
- Valpo tallied double figures in steals 12 times in 25 games in 2020-21, after doing so 16 times the previous season.
- With 300 steals, the 2019-20 squad 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 Look at the Non-Conference
- Head coach Mary Evans has put together a challenging non-conference schedule to help prepare Valpo for the grind of MVC play.
- The non-conference slate features five teams which finished within the top-100 of the NCAA NET ranking last season, including three teams which appeared in the NCAA Tournament.
- Valpo will take on four MAC opponents, including the reigning regular season (Bowling Green) and tournament (Central Michigan) champions.
- The Beacons will host Notre Dame at the ARC on Dec. 8.
- Valpo also has trips to two programs - Michigan State and South Dakota - which finished in the top-40 of the NET last year.
- Four regular starters return for Valpo in 2021-22, including a trio who own extensive streaks of consecutive games started.
- Shay Frederick, Caitlin Morrison and Carie Weinman were three of the four players who started every game a season ago.
- Frederick has started 68 consecutive games dating back to the middle of her freshman year, while Morrison and Weinman have made 56 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.
- Grace White started all 22 games she was available for last season as well.
- In contrast to that quartet, Maya Dunson made her first start in the Valpo uniform in the season opener.
- 14 letterwinners from last year’s team, including four starters, return for Valpo in 2021-22.
- The four returning starters are sixth-year Caitlin Morrison, fifth-year Grace White, redshirt senior Carie Weinman and senior Shay Frederick.
- Two other seniors return as well: Maya Dunson and Ilysse Pitts.
- Junior Cara VanKempen is joined by a quintet of sophomores: Ava Interrante, Syria Butler, Leah Earnest, Lauren Gunn and Jayda Johnston.
- Katie Beyer and Molly Sheehan are also back after enrolling early for the spring 2021 semester to join the program ahead of schedule.
- In all, Valpo returns 93% of the team’s scoring, 91.6% of the rebounding and 96.4% of the assists from last year’s squad.
- Three newcomers round out Valpo’s 2021-22 roster.
- Junior Olivia Brown is ready for her first season in the Valpo uniform after playing her first two collegiate seasons at St. Bonaventure.
- Two true freshmen join the mix as well: Lovie Malone [Wayne (Ohio) H.S.] and Ella Van Weelden [Marion (Iowa) H.S.]. Both are projected to redshirt.
Same Alma Maters
- While there are 17 players on the 2021-22 Valpo women’s basketball roster, there are only 14 high schools represented, as three high schools count a pair of Beacons as alums.
- Sixth-year Caitlin Morrison and redshirt senior Carie Weinman both graduated from Glenbrook South (Ill.) H.S.
- Senior Maya Dunson and freshman Lovie Malone both are alums of Wayne (Ohio) H.S.
- Sophomore Ava Interrante and freshman Katie Beyer were teammates at McHenry (Ill.) H.S.