Another weekend, another first for the Valpo women’s basketball team, as the Beacons built up a 14-point lead and held off a Bradley rally down the stretch — thanks in large part to two key 3-pointers late from Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) — to earn a 68-61 victory Saturday afternoon. The victory was the first in program history on the road over the Braves.
How It Happened
- A second-chance basket from Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) and a 3-pointer by Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) gave Valpo a 5-0 lead in the game’s first two minutes before Bradley scored the next five to tie things up.
- Valpo answered with nine points in a row over the next three minutes, with four different Beacons finding the scoresheet during that stretch to make it 14-5 Valpo. The Beacons ended the opening period with a 20-15 advantage.
- Valpo maintained a two-possession advantage for most of the second quarter, and pushed its lead to eight points with 1:50 to play in the half on a 3-pointer by Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic).
- The Braves responded immediately with 3-pointers on their next two possessions to get to within two points. Morrison knocked down a triple with just seconds remaining in the opening half to seemingly make it a five-point game at intermission, but Bradley raced the ball down and got a 30-footer from Tatum Koenig at the buzzer to cut Valpo’s edge to 35-33 at the break.
- Both teams struggled to find the basket in the opening minutes of the second half. Bradley connected on a 3-pointer 2:44 into the third quarter for the first points for either side, putting the Braves in front 36-35 — their first lead of the game.
- Valpo came back on their next trip with a 3-pointer by Morrison which sparked a 18-5 stretch to close the quarter. Five different players scored for the Beacons in the run, including five points apiece from Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [St. Bonaventure]) and Frederick. The latter’s 3-pointer capped the scoring for the period and gave Valpo a 53-41 lead with 10 minutes to play.
- Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) recorded a steal and layup within the first 30 seconds of the fourth quarter to push Valpo’s lead to its peak at 14 points. The Beacons’ edge was still 14 inside of eight minutes remaining to play, and was still 13 points approaching the halfway mark of the fourth quarter.
- A quick spurt from the Braves brought them back into contention in the last few minutes, however. Bradley scored 10 points in a four-possession stretch while holding Valpo without a point in that same span to close to within 58-55 with 3:09 to play.
- Morrison connected on a huge 3-pointer on Valpo’s next possession to push the lead back to six points, allowing the Beacons to absorb back-to-back scoreless trips while Bradley scored on two of its next three possessions to close to within 61-59 with 1:32 remaining.
- Maya Dunson (Dayton, Ohio/Wayne [Loyola]) came up with a big bucket the next time down the floor, driving for a layup at the rim — her first field goal of the game — to again make it a two-possession game with 1:11 to go.
- It was White with the key defensive play on the ensuing Bradley trip, blocking a 3-point attempt with less than a minute to play. And Valpo converted it into points on the other end, as Frederick found Morrison for her fifth 3-pointer of the contest to put the game away.
Inside the Game
- Saturday’s win was Valpo’s first-ever victory at Bradley. The Braves had won all six previous meetings between the two programs in Peoria.
- Morrison led four players in double figures with 15 points as she connected on 5-of-8 from the 3-point line. It was Morrison’s second time hitting at least five triples in Valpo’s last three games.
- Frederick and White scored 12 points apiece in the win. White also came up with three assists and a game-high six steals, setting a career best in the category.
- Frederick added five rebounds, seven assists and four steals to her 12 points, which came on just 3-of-5 shooting from the field.
- Frederick passed Tamra Braun for 13th place in program history in career scoring, finishing the victory with 1,107 career points. She also pushed her career assist total to 427 and now ranks third in program history in that category, surpassing Mo Drabicki on Saturday.
- Earnest posted 11 points, a game-high 10 rebounds — tying her career best — and three assists without committing a turnover. It was the sophomore’s first career double-double, and the first double-double by a Valpo player since White registered one at Wisconsin in December 2020.
- Valpo finished Saturday’s win 13-for-32 (.406) from 3-point range, the sixth time this year the Beacons have hit at least 10 triples in a game and the fourth time they’ve hit at least 40% of their tries from deep.
- Valpo forced 23 Bradley turnovers in the win, 13 of which were Beacon steals — both of which are season highs. Valpo out-scored Bradley 24-13 in points off turnovers.
- The Beacons limited Koenig, who scored 19 first-half points for Bradley, to just three field goal attempts and four points in the second half.
Valpo (5-12, 3-3 MVC) returns to the ARC to host Indiana State this coming Friday at 6 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPN+.