The Valpo women’s basketball team suffered its first defeat of the 2022-23 season on Wednesday afternoon in matinee action at the ARC, falling to visiting Eastern Illinois by a 73-67 final.
How It Happened
- EIU scored the game’s first four points, but Valpo put together a 16-2 run over a span of 2:35 to pull out in front. Sophomore Olivia Sims (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy [Oakland]) hit two 3-pointers and converted a 3-point play during the stretch, and when fifth-year Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic) drove for a layup with 4:31 to play in the quarter, Valpo led 16-6.
- The Panthers responded with a 10-2 run to get back to within one possession, and the Beacons eventually enjoyed a 20-17 lead after the opening 10 minutes.
- Valpo extended its lead back out to six points at 30-24 on a Pitts triple with 6:58 to play in the first half, but the Beacons then went scoreless on 11 consecutive possessions, allowing EIU to score 12 in a row to turn the tables and go up 36-30.
- Freshman Ali Saunders (Depauw, Ind./North Harrison) snapped the drought of over five minutes with a 3-pointer and then finished a driving layup on Valpo’s last possession of the half to bring the Beacons within 36-35 at intermission.
- It was a battle for control throughout the third quarter, as the teams combined for nine lead changes and neither squad enjoyed more than a 3-point lead during the period. It looked like Valpo might take a 52-49 advantage into the final quarter, but EIU’s Lariah Washington banked in a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the period to tie the game at 52-52.
- Valpo led 57-54 following a triple by senior Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [St. Bonaventure]) with 8:31 to play in the game. The Beacons went scoreless on their next four trips, as EIU scored six in a row to take a three-point lead.
- Pitts drove for a layup on Valpo’s next possession to make it a one-point game with five minutes to play before EIU scored five on its next two trips. Brown knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:31 to go to make it a 64-62 game.
- The Panthers hit from deep on their next trip, but again Valpo cut the deficit to one possession its next time down the floor, as junior Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) finished inside with 2:31 to play. The Beacons actually had a shot to tie the game on their next time down the floor, but were unable to convert, and never again had the ball with an opportunity to tie or take the lead.
Inside the Game
- Valpo lost for the first time this season after opening the year with back-to-back wins.
- The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for Valpo in the series with EIU.
- The Beacons shot just 37.7% from the field on Wednesday. They did knock down 10 3-pointers and went 11-of-12 (91.7%) from the foul line.
- Wednesday marked just the second time in the last four seasons that Valpo has lost after holding a double-digit lead at some point during the contest.
- Brown paced the Beacons on Wednesday with a team-best 20 points, one off her high in the Valpo uniform. She also grabbed six rebounds, five of which came on the offensive end, and led the Beacons with four assists.
- Saunders came up with 12 points off the bench, reaching double figures for the third straight game to open her career. She is the first Valpo freshman to do so since Dani Franklin in 2014-15, who started her career with six straight double-digit outings.
- Earnest posted her second double-double of the season and the fourth of her career with 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. The 14 rebounds are the most by a Valpo player since Franklin grabbed 16 in January 2018 against Indiana State.
- Pitts — who knocked down a career-best four shots from the field — and Sims added nine points apiece. Pitts also tallied a game-high three steals.
- Washington, the OVC Preseason Player of the Year, led all players with 33 points.
Click here for postgame press conference.
Valpo (2-1) concludes its current three-game homestand next Monday evening when it hosts UAB at the ARC at 6 p.m. Monday’s game can be seen live on ESPN+.