Valparaiso (2-11, 0-5 MVC)
Game #14 - Jan. 14, 2023 - 1 p.m.
Missouri State (9-5, 4-1 MVC)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valpo women’s basketball team returns home to the ARC for its lone home game in a five-game stretch on Saturday afternoon as the Beacons welcome Missouri State to town to continue MVC play.
Previously: Valpo looked poised to capture its first MVC victory of the season Wednesday evening in Chicago, but it wasn’t to be, as host UIC claimed the 51-50 victory with a game-winning 3-pointer from Josie Filer with 1.9 seconds to play. The Beacons led by eight points with 4:58 to play and were still up two inside the final seconds before Filer’s shot.
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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 50-79. 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: The Lady Bears have earned victories in all 10 meetings in the all-time series between Valpo and Missouri State, all of which have come since Valpo joined the MVC prior to the 2017-18 campaign. Last season, MSU won 74-62 in Springfield and 66-46 at the ARC. Over those two games, Olivia Brown scored a combined 29 points on 11-of-13 shooting, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range.
- 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 earned its largest lead of the game, 46-38, with 4:58 to play on a 3-pointer from Ilysse Pitts.
- The Beacons were limited to just one point over the next four-plus minutes as UIC closed to within 47-46.
- Olivia Sims hit two free throws with 19.5 seconds to play, countered by two UIC free throws with 10.7 seconds.
- Olivia Brown split a pair at the line to make it 50-48 with 8.6 to go, setting up Josie Filer’s game-winning triple.
- The 51 points allowed matched the lowest output by an opponent since Valpo held Purdue to 47 points on Dec. 6, 2020.
- The Beacons held UIC to 39% shooting, while on the offensive end, Valpo hit at a 45.9% clip. At the foul line, however, the Beacons were just 11-of-22 - including just 4-of-8 in the final two minutes - to the Flames’ 12-of-18.
- Sims matched her career high in the scoring column, with her final two free throws giving her a team-best 12 points on the night. The sophomore, who went 4-of-6 from the field and 4-of-5 from the foul line, has four 12-point efforts in her career.
...versus Indiana State
- Valpo led 14-3 just 4:01 into the ballgame, but went scoreless for the next 12 minutes as Indiana State claimed the lead.
- The teams were tied 23-all at halftime and the Beacons led 43-41 with 10 minutes to play.
- Consecutive 3-pointers from Maya Dunson and Ava Interrante gave Valpo a 54-49 lead with 5:20 to play, but Indiana State scored on seven of its next eight possessions to take control.
- Four Valpo players scored in double figures, led by 17 points from Olivia Brown, who went 5-of-8 from 3-point range — her second game in MVC play with at least five triples.
- Dunson set her career high by scoring 14 points — all of which came in the second half, 11 of them in the fourth quarter. She went an efficient 4-of-6 from the floor and hit all four of her free throw attempts..
- Interrante finished with 12 points to score in double figures for the third time this year, while Leah Earnest finished in double figures for the 10th time with 10 points.
- Earnest also led all players with 10 rebounds to register her fifth double-double of the campaign.
- Valpo outrebounded ISU 31-25 and gave up just seven offensive boards to a Sycamore team which outrebounded the Beacons by a combined 31 in the two matchups last season and grabbed 40 offensive rebounds over those two games.
- The +6 rebounding margin was the team’s second-best of the season and the first time in MVC play the Beacons have had the advantage on the glass.
- Valpo tied its season highs for both 3-pointers made and attempted by going 11-for-31 from the arc — the fourth time this year the Beacons have hit at least 10 triples. Valpo also matched a season high with 15 assists, five of which came from Brown to match her career best.
- The Beacons turned the ball over 22 times and forced just 10 miscues by the Sycamores. The 12-turnover disparity allowed ISU to hold a 20-6 edge in points off turnovers.
- Valpo plays its next three in a row on the road, starting with the Iowa road swing at UNI Thursday, Jan. 19 and at Drake Saturday, Jan. 21.
- The Beacons will then step out of Valley play briefly on Wednesday, Jan. 25 to make up their postponed game at Wisconsin.
...at the ARC
- Saturday’s game is the eighth of 15 home games this season for Valpo and the third home MVC game.
- The Beacons are 1-6 at home so far this year and went 6-7 in home games last season.
- Missouri State enters Saturday’s game with a 9-5 overall record and is tied atop the MVC standings with a 4-1 mark in conference play, most recently running away from SIU in the second half Wednesday for a 78-57 victory.
- The Lady Bears, who were picked to finish sixth in the Valley preseason poll, boast three players scoring in double figures, led by 13.9 points/game and 5.0 assists/game from Kansas transfer Aniya Thomas.
- Colorado transfer Kennedy Taylor adds 11.4 points/game and a team-high 8.4 rebounds/game.
- Valpo’s top two defensive efforts of the season have come within its last three games.
- In its home game against Evansville, the Beacons surrendered just 57 points - to that point, a season low for Valpo’s opposition.
- Valpo did one better last time out at UIC, limiting the Flames to just 51 points.
- The 51 points matches the lowest output by a Valpo opponent since the Beacons beat Purdue 52-47 on Dec. 6, 2020.
- Valpo’s loss to UIC on Wednesday on Josie Filer’s 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining was its second last-second defeat this season.
- The Beacons fell in overtime to UAB on Nov. 21 when the Blazers’ Maria Roters hit a layup with 3.3 seconds to play in the extra period.
- Prior to the UAB game, Valpo had not lost a game by a single possession since another heartbreaking defeat - a 74-73 loss to #25 Missouri State on Jan. 31, 2021 on three free throws with 0.8 seconds left.
- This year is the first time Valpo has lost multiple games on a last-second shot (inside the final five seconds) since 2010-11 - that year’s squad fell 69-67 at Evansville on a layup with 1.1 seconds remaining and 70-69 at Milwaukee on a jumper in the paint with 4.9 seconds to play.
Hitting From Deep
- Senior Olivia Brown has been on fire from the 3-point line to start off MVC play.
- Brown is hitting at a 51.6% clip from downtown in the Beacons’ first five Valley games, going 16-of-31 from deep so far in conference.
- Brown leads the Valley in conference-only games in both 3-pointers/game and 3-point percentage.
- She went 6-of-8 from 3-point range at Belmont, a 75% clip which ranks among the top-10 single-game 3-point percentage marks in program history, and went 5-of-8 from deep against Indiana State.
- Overall this season, Brown is shooting 44.8% from 3-point land, a mark which would rank third in a single season in program history.
- Brown reached the minimum number of 3-point attempts to qualify for Valpo’s career 3-point percentage chart last time out at UIC - her 42.0% clip in the Valpo uniform ranks second in program history.
Earnest Crashes the Boards
- Junior Leah Earnest has been one of the Valley’s most effective rebounders this season and has six double-figure rebounding performances this year - most recently a 10-board effort against Indiana State.
- Earnest’s average of 8.3 rebounds/game ranks among the top-90 nationally.
- Earnest now owns the top-two individual rebounding efforts in head coach Mary Evans’ tenure with 14 against EIU and 13 against UAB.
- Combining her scoring and rebounding, Earnest has registered five double-doubles after recording just one in her first two seasons combined.
- Earnest is the first player in program history to tally three double-doubles in the first four games of a season.
- Earnest already has more double-doubles this season than Valpo has posted as a team in any of the last three seasons. She is the first Valpo player with at least five double-doubles in a single campaign since Dani Franklin tallied five during the 2017-18 season.
Big Half For Dunson
- It might be worth it for fifth-year Maya Dunson to pretend that she’s playing against Indiana State every time out.
- Dunson scored a then career-best 13 points last year at Indiana State, but one-upped that last Saturday with 14 points against the Sycamores to set a new career high.
- Notably, Dunson was scoreless at the half before scoring all 14 points in the second half - 11 of which came in the fourth quarter.
- Dunson became the third different Valpo player to score at least 10 points in a single quarter this year - Olivia Brown scored 10 in the fourth quarter against Western Michigan, while Ali Saunders scored 10 in the first quarter and 11 in the overtime period versus UAB.
Setting Career Bests
- Remarkably, Dunson is the second Beacon this season to set a career best in the scoring column with all the points coming in the second half.
- Previously, junior Ava Interrante was scoreless at halftime of Valpo’s Dec. 9 game at Western Illinois before scoring 15 points in the second half to surpass her career best.
- Also in that WIU game, junior Jayda Johnston raced past her previous high of six points just 2:05 into the second quarter on her way to a team-best 16 points.
- Nine of Valpo’s 11 players who have seen action this season have tied or set career bests for scoring - notably, three separate games have featured multiple Beacons hitting career highs.
- The season-opening win at Central Michigan featured career bests for Leah Earnest (20) and Katie Beyer (11), while Ali Saunders (32) and Olivia Sims (12) hit career highs in the overtime loss to UAB.
A New Rookie Standard
- Freshman Ali Saunders set a new mark for Valpo rookies as she scored 32 points against UAB.
- The previous freshman record is unknown, but there have now been 16 games in program history a Valpo player has scored 32 or more points, and none of the previous 15 came from a rookie.
- Saunders posted the highest-scoring game by any Valpo player since Dani Franklin dropped 33 points against Eastern Illinois on Dec. 3, 2016.
- Saunders was in double figures in the scoring column in each of the first four games of her collegiate career - the first Valpo freshman since Franklin in 2014-15 to do so.