Valparaiso (0-0, 0-0 MVC)
Game #1 - Nov. 7, 2022 - 6 p.m. CT
at Central Michigan (0-0, 0-0 MAC)
McGuirk Arena (5,300) - Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valpo women’s basketball team kicks off the 2022-23 season on Monday evening on the road, traveling to Mt. Pleasant, Mich. to face off against Central Michigan for the second straight season. The game against the Chippewas is the first of three against MAC opponents in the Beacons’ nonconference slate.
Previously: Valpo chose to play a pair of closed scrimmages in the preseason in lieu of open exhibition games.
Following Valpo Basketball: Streaming Video: ESPN3
Radio: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso)
Streaming Audio: TuneIn app
Links for live coverage: Available via ValpoAthletics.com
Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans is in her fifth year at the helm of the program in 2022-23 and owns a record of 48-68. Evans has made an impact on the program in her first four 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 in each of the last three seasons and in steals per game in two of the last three years.
Series Notes: Central Michigan holds a 5-2 advantage in the all-time series over Valpo, with the Chippewas’ five wins coming in each of the last five meetings. Last season, the two squads met for the first time in 13 years as Valpo hosted CMU on Nov. 14. The Beacons led that matchup 49-44 entering the fourth quarter, but the Chippewas out-scored Valpo 21-12 over the final 10 minutes to earn a 65-61 victory. Leah Earnest led the Beacons in that game, coming off the bench to score a career-best 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting while also pulling down six rebounds.
- Valpo was picked to finish in 10th place in the MVC preseason poll, totaling 197 points, just 10 points behind Evansville.
- Valpo is in its sixth season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
- The Valley was ranked 10th in conference NET last year, 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 finished last year with an 11-19 overall record, but was strong in MVC play, going 9-9 in conference and finishing in sixth place - both of which match the program’s best since joining the Valley.
- The Beacons registered the first win at Drake and the first win at Bradley in program history.
- Valpo swept the season series over Drake, the program’s first two wins ever against the Bulldogs.
- The Beacons also tallied four top-100 wins within Valley play.
- Grace White was named MVC Sixth Player of the Year - the program’s first major postseason award since joining the Valley. Shay Frederick was a First Team All-MVC choice, while White was an All-Defensive Team selection and Olivia Brown earned a spot on the All-Newcomer Team.
- Valpo won’t hit the road again for nearly three weeks after Monday’s game, as the Beacons’ next three games are all at the ARC.
- Valpo hosts Southern Miss Nov. 12, Eastern Illinois Nov. 16 and UAB Nov. 21.
...on the road
- Valpo will play 14 true road games this season, including four in nonconference action.
- The Beacons posted a 5-11 record in true road games last season.
...in season openers
- Valpo dropped its season opener to Miami (Ohio) last season, 85-60.
- Valpo’s last win in a season opener came over IU Kokomo to open the 2017-18 campaign, 81-47, while its last win over a D-I opponent in a season opener was a 91-57 win over Butler to open the 2014-15 season.
- Central Michigan posted a 4-25 record last season and went 2-18 in MAC play.
- The Chippewas were picked last in the MAC preseason poll.
- Prior to last season, CMU had advanced to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments and had made six straight postseason appearances.
- It will be a revamped squad on the court for the Beacons in 2022-23.
- Valpo returns just 32.1% of their scoring, 38.1% of their rebounding, 24.4% of their assists and 35.9% of their minutes played from last year’s squad.
- Valpo lost its three leading scorers, four of its five leading rebounders and its three highest assist talliers from the 2021-22 team.
- Seven letterwinners return for the Beacons in 2022-23.
- Included among that group are four regulars from last year’s team, highlighted by senior Olivia Brown, who was an MVC All-Newcomer choice last season.
- Brown averaged 6.6 points/game and hit at a conference-best 39.8% clip from the 3-point line. Brown stepped up her game within Valley play, averaging 9.5 points/game in MVC action and hitting at a 42.4% rate from deep.
- Also returning from last year’s starting group is junior wing Leah Earnest. Earnest averaged 7.7 points/game and 4.6 rebounds/game in 2021-22, ranking second on the team in rebounding.
- She paced Valpo on the boards nine times and scored in double figures on nine occasions, including a pair of 17-point efforts.
- Fifth years Maya Dunson (3.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg) and Ilysse Pitts (1.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg) also saw regular action last season.
- Juniors Ava Interrante and Jayda Johnston and sophomore Katie Beyer look to take advantage of the available playing time entering this year.
- While Valpo has three freshmen on this year’s team, none of them are traditional true freshmen.
- Both Ella Van Weelden and Lovie Malone redshirted last season in their first year on campus.
- Meanwhile, Ali Saunders came to campus at the holiday break and spent the spring semester with the team.
- The Beacons also added a pair of transfers to the roster for this season.
- Emma Tecca spent three seasons at Akron, but used just one season of eligibility. Tecca hit at a 45.2% clip from behind the 3-point line in 2020-21 — a mark which ranks among the best single-season clips in Akron history.
- Olivia Sims was at Oakland last season, where she hit at a 46.9% clip from the 3-point line in 12 appearances. Sims scored in double figures four times, including a 12-point performance against Michigan State.
- 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 four seasons at the helm saw Valpo’s top-four 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-35 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 her four seasons at the helm, Valpo owns 11 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.
Top 100 Wins
- Valpo has made a habit of knocking off top-100 opponents in MVC play over the last few seasons.
- Four times in MVC play in 2021-22, the Beacons earned a victory over a top-100 team.
- Valpo has nine top-100 NET/RPI wins in Valley action over the last three seasons.
- Prior to its Feb. 16, 2020 win at Illinois State - its first top-100 win in conference play since joining the Valley - Valpo had gone nearly seven years without a top-100 victory.
Down 10? No Problem
- Not surprisingly given their penchant for the 3-point shot, a double-digit deficit isn’t a death sentence for Valpo.
- Last season, five of the Beacon’s nine conference wins saw Valpo overcome a double-figure deficit at some points during the game.
- Valpo has now rallied from down 10 or more to win 15 times in head coach Mary Evans first four years at the helm of the program.
Same Alma Maters
- While there are 12 players on the 2022-23 Valpo women’s basketball roster, there are only 10 high schools represented.
- Fifth year Maya Dunson and redshirt freshman Lovie Malone are both alums of Wayne (Ohio) H.S.
- Junior Ava Interrante and sophomore Katie Beyer were teammates at McHenry (Ill.) H.S.