Valparaiso (0-3, 0-0 MVC)
Game #4 - November 21, 2021 - 3 p.m. CT
at Xavier (0-3, 0-0 Big East)
Cintas Center (10,224) - Cincinnati, Ohio
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valpo women’s basketball team takes on its second consecutive power conference opponent on Sunday, as the program’s current five-game road stretch continues with a trip to Cincinnati to face Xavier.
Previously: Valpo erased nearly all of a 13-point first-half deficit Tuesday night playing at a Michigan State receiving votes in both national top-25 polls, pulling to within four points in the third quarter, and made another run at the Spartans in the fourth quarter, but came up just short, as the Beacons fell to MSU, 73-62. Grace White led all players in scoring with 22 points.
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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 37-52. 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: Xavier holds an 8-1 advantage in the all-time series, but all eight of the Musketeers’ wins came in 2007 and earlier. When the two teams met last season at the ARC, Valpo led by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter and went on to win, 88-83. Carie Weinman led Valpo with 26 points, while Grace White scored 23 - her high in the Valpo uniform.
- 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.
...at Michigan State
- The Spartans led by as many as 13 points in the first half and were up 36-28 at halftime.
- Valpo scored on five of its first seven possessions of the second half to close to within 43-39 with 6:19 to play in the third quarter.
- The Spartans scored the next 10 points as part of a larger 17-5 run to close out the period as they extended out to a 60-44 lead with 10 minutes to play.
- MSU led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter. Valpo got to within seven late on a basket from Grace White with 24 seconds remaining.
- After averaging 16.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in Valpo’s three games against Big Ten teams a season ago, White enjoyed another stellar effort against high-level competition Tuesday. White led all players with 22 points, just one off her Valpo high and 17 of which came in the second half.
- Frederick joined White in double figures Tuesday, finishing with 15 points.
- Valpo put together its best effort on the defensive glass of the season, limiting Michigan State to just four second-chance points and only 11 offensive boards.
- The Beacons committed three fewer turnovers than the Spartans (16-13).
...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.
- The stretch of five straight road games continues on Tuesday at UIC.
- Valpo returns to action following Thanksgiving on Monday, Nov. 29 at Western Michigan.
...on the road
- Sunday marks the second 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.
- Xavier enters Sunday’s game also in search of its first win of the season, with losses at Memphis, at Utah and to Miami (Ohio) so far this year.
- The Musketeers were picked to finish 10th in the Big East preseason poll after posting a 5-10 overall record last season.
- Through three games, Nia Clark is averaging a team-high 14.0 points/game.
Get Accustomed to the Road
- Valpo is in the midst of a stretch of five consecutive true road games, which started this past Tuesday at Michigan State and concludes 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 On Power Conference Foes
- Sunday marks Valpo’s second straight matchup against a power conference opponent, coming off the Tuesday game at Michigan State.
- Valpo has 19 wins in program history against teams currently in power conferences - 9 Big East, 7 Big Ten, 2 ACC and 1 Pac-12.
- Eight of Valpo’s nine wins over current Big East teams came against Butler, but only one of those has come since Butler joined the Big East.
- With a win Sunday over Xavier, Valpo would defeat the same power conference program in consecutive years for the first time in program history.
- Valpo earned three wins last season over power conference opponents: Illinois, Purdue and Xavier.
Shining When the Lights Are Brightest
- Grace White led all players with 22 points last time out at Michigan State and paced the Beacons with six rebounds.
- But that should be no surprise, given White’s proclivity for stepping up her game against the biggest opponents.
- White has now been a part of seven games in her time at Valpo against power conference opponents.
- Over those seven games, White has averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game on 50% (38-76) shooting from the field.
- White led Valpo in scoring and rebounding four times apiece over those seven games.
- Included among those seven games are three efforts of 20+ points, highlighted by her 23-point game against Xavier - her high in the Valpo uniform.
- 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 69 consecutive games dating back to the middle of her freshman year, while Morrison and Weinman have made 57 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.