The afternoon began with Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) being honored for setting Valpo women’s basketball program records for career games played and games started last time out. It ended a reminder of the steps forward the program has taken over her six years in the Brown and Gold, as Morrison knocked down a career-high seven 3-pointers to lead the way as Valpo earned its first-ever win over visiting Drake, 71-61.
How It Happened
- The start was the antithesis of how Valpo began Friday’s victory over UNI, and fittingly Morrison got things going, knocking down 3-pointers on two of Valpo’s first four possessions as the Beacons opened the game on an 8-0 run. Valpo kept Drake off the scoreboard for over four minutes to begin the game.
- Valpo’s lead was 12-4 with 4:34 to play in the opening period following a triple from Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville), but Drake scored eight in a row over the next 90 seconds to tie the game at 12 apiece.
- The Beacons answered right back to end the quarter, scoring the final eight points of the period — including four points from Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) and a putback from Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) at the buzzer — to take a 20-12 lead after 10 minutes.
- Matching mini-spurts opened the second quarter, as Drake scored the first five points of the period before Valpo came back with six in a row to extend its lead to nine points.
- The Beacons’ lead reached double digits for the first time late in the first half on a 3-pointer by White, and got up to as many as 12 points before settling in at a 38-29 advantage at intermission.
- Much like she did in the first half, Morrison opened the scoring with a triple 1:46 into the third quarter to push Valpo’s lead to 12 points.
- It remained a double-figure lead for the rest of the third quarter. Another 3-pointer from Morrison pushed the advantage to 16 points at 51-35 with 3:55 to play in the quarter, and with 2:13 remaining in the period, Earnest converted a layup as Valpo led 56-39.
- Drake scored the final six points of the quarter to close to within 56-45 with 10 minutes to play.
- Valpo’s scoring drought spanning the third and fourth quarters reached nearly five minutes, as the Beacons went over two and a half minutes into the final period before scoring. But they surrendered just a single basket to the Bulldogs over that same stretch.
- With the lead at single digits for the first time since early in the third quarter, Frederick came up with a big play with the shot clock winding down, shot-faking to draw a foul on a 3-point attempt with 7:24 to play in the game.
- Coming out of a media timeout initiated by replay review to make sure the foul had come before the shot clock expired, a 54-second stretch all but put away the game. Frederick hit all three of her free throws to make it a 12-point game.
- Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic) recorded a steal on the defensive end, and on the ensuing trip, Frederick found Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [St. Bonaventure]) for a 3-pointer.
- Another defensive possession ended in a steal for Pitts, this one resulting in a fast break that saw the guard find Morrison for yet another 3-pointer to extend the lead to 65-47 with 6:30 to play.
- Morrison put a bow on her day with her seventh triple of the afternoon inside of the final two minutes.
Inside the Game
- The win was the first in program history for Valpo over Drake, as the Bulldogs were 13-0 entering Sunday afternoon.
- The series had definitely been trending towards a victory for the Beacons, however. The Bulldogs’ average margin of victory was 31.9 points in the first seven matchups since Valpo joined the MVC, but in the last four meetings prior to Sunday, Drake’s average margin of victory had been just 7.5 points.
- Drake entered Sunday with a NET ranking of 65, meaning Valpo’s weekend sweep came over a pair of top-100 NET opponents. Valpo now owns seven top-100 wins in conference play in the last three seasons.
- This weekend was Valpo’s fourth sweep of a weekend set since joining the Valley. Valpo previously swept both the home and road Indiana State/Evansville weekends in 2019-20, and took down Southern Illinois twice on back-to-back days last season.
- The story of the afternoon was obviously the shooting performance by Morrison. She ended the game 7-for-9 from beyond the 3-point line to match her career high with 21 points.
- The seven triples are tied for fifth-most in a single game in program history, with Frederick last season at Wisconsin the only other Valpo player in the last decade to connect on seven or more 3-pointers in a contest.
- Morrison’s .778 clip from deep on Sunday is tied for fourth-best in a single game in program history.
- Morrison, who also grabbed four rebounds and blocked a game-high three shots, is now tied with Loyola’s Janae Gonzales for the most 3-pointers in a game this season by an MVC player.
- Six different Valpo players in all hit from deep as the Beacons shot 14-for-31 (.452) from beyond the 3-point line in Sunday’s win.
- The 14 triples tied a season best (Detroit Mercy) and are tied for eighth-most in a game in program history. Valpo has now hit 14 or more 3-pointers 20 times in program history, 11 of which have come in the four-year tenure of head coach Mary Evans.
- Four of Morrison’s seven 3-pointers were assisted by Frederick, who broke her career best on Sunday with 10 assists. It was the first time a Valpo player has reached double figures in assists since Maya Meredith’s record-setting 16-assist performance against IU Northwest on Dec. 15, 2017, and is just the third double-figure performance in the category this year by an MVC player.
- Cara VanKempen (Coopersville, Mich./Coopersville) set a career high as well with four assists as Valpo tallied 22 assists as a team on 24 baskets. The 22 assists are Valpo’s best effort against a D-I opponent since recording 22 helpers in a win at UIC March 5, 2016.
- Frederick, who now has 417 career assists and is just seven shy of third place in program history in the category, failed to reach double digits in scoring for the first time in six games, finishing with eight points. Despite that, Frederick surpassed Suzie Hammel for 15th place in program history in career scoring, and with 1,080 career points, is just one point shy of Lynda Kukla for 14th
- Frederick also moved into a tie for sixth place all-time at Valpo with 171 career triples, matching Sarah Lenschow and Aimee Litka.
- Frederick’s distribution was more than enough for the Beacons’ offense on Sunday, however, as four Valpo players finished in double digits in the scoring column for the first time since Dec. 20, 2020 at Wisconsin — led by the effort of Morrison.
- Earnest finished with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting and pulled down a team-best seven rebounds. The sophomore has now scored nine or more points in each of Valpo’s last six games.
- Brown scored in double figures for the third straight game, hitting a pair of 3-pointers en route to 11 points.
- White rounded out the quartet in double figures with 10 points to go with six rebounds.
- Defensively, Valpo continued to limit its opponents from deep since starting Valley play, as Drake was just 5-for-26 from 3-point range. The Beacons’ opponents are hitting at just 18.8% from deep through the first four MVC games.
- Valpo also forced 20 turnovers from Drake, matching a season high for turnovers forced. While the Beacons committed 20 turnovers of their own, Valpo was much more proficient at converting defense into offense, ending the afternoon with a 28-14 advantage in points off turnovers.
- 10 of those 20 turnovers forced were Valpo steals, the second time this year the Beacons have tallied double figures in steals. Pitts led the way with a game-high four thefts, just one off her career best.
- For the second straight game, Valpo played with just eight available players.
Valpo (4-11, 2-2 MVC) looks for its third straight conference win as it returns to the road next week to face Illinois State Thursday evening at 6 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPN+.