January 25, 20231st2nd3rd4thFinal
Stats at a GlanceVALPOWisc
FG Percentage.313 (15-48) .358 (19-53)
3P FG Percentage.217 (5-23) .182 (4-22)
FT Percentage.692 (9-13) .895 (17-19)
Offensive Rebounds87
Defensive Rebounds2428
Total Rebounds3235
Bench Points129
PointsEarnest - 16
Williams - 18
ReboundsEarnest - 13
Wilke - 8
AssistsPitts - 2
Earnest - 2
Pospisilova - 3
StealsSaunders - 2
Sims - 2
Pospisilova - 4
BlocksWilliams - 4
Women's Basketball Steps Out of MVC Play Wednesday at Wisconsin
Monday, January 23, 2023
Women's Basketball Steps Out of MVC Play Wednesday at Wisconsin
Jayda Johnston and Valpo head up to Wisconsin Wednesday.

Valparaiso (3-13, 1-7 MVC)
Game #17 - Jan. 25, 2023 - 6:30 p.m.
at Wisconsin (6-14, 2-7 Big Ten)
Kohl Center (17,287) - Madison, Wis.

Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valpo women’s basketball team takes a brief step away from the grind of the MVC slate for its final nonconference game of the regular season, as the Beacons travel to Madison, Wis. to face off with Wisconsin Wednesday evening. The game is a makeup from the originally scheduled game Dec. 22, which was postponed due to weather.

Previously: Valpo closed out its Iowa road swing on Saturday afternoon in Des Moines, falling to host Drake by an 84-51 final. Olivia Brown led the Beacons offensively with a 16-point effort, while Ilysse Pitts and Ava Interrante tallied four steals apiece.

Following Valpo Basketball: Streaming Video: BTN+
Radio: None
Streaming Audio: YouTube
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 51-81. 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: Wednesday marks the third meeting between the Valpo and Wisconsin women’s basketball programs. Both of the previous two matchups have come in Madison as well, including the most recent - an 89-82 overtime win for the Badgers on Dec. 20, 2020. Valpo rallied from a 10-point second half deficit to force overtime on a Shay Frederick layup with 1.3 seconds to play in regulation - two of her career-best 27 points. Leah Earnest is the only current Beacon to have played in that game, as the Badger State native contributed 11 points and four rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench as a freshman.

...and @ValleyHoops
- 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.

...at Drake
- Valpo got out to a strong start, buoyed by its early defense. The Beacons forced five Drake turnovers in the opening five minutes of the game, four of which were steals by fifth-year point guard Ilysse Pitts.
- Meanwhile, on the offensive end, the Beacons had fifth-year Maya Dunson and junior Jayda Johnston hit early 3-pointers, while junior Ava Interrante had a 3-point play as Valpo led 11-7 at the first media timeout.
- Drake outscored Valpo 14-3 over the final five minutes of the first quarter to lead 21-14 at the end of one.
- Senior Olivia Brown helped keep Valpo within striking distance in the second period, scoring 11 points in that quarter alone — including three 3-pointers. The Bulldogs led 42-31 at halftime.
- Drake scored the first 11 points of the second half, and Valpo got no closer than 18 points the rest of the way. The Bulldogs were up 68-42 with 10 minutes to play.
- Drake shot 54% (27-of-50) for the game, while the Beacons were just 14-of-47 (29.8%) from the field.
- Valpo also committed 25 turnovers, allowing Drake to score 24 points off turnovers. The Beacons did force 19 Drake miscues, 12 of which were steals — highlighted by four apiece from Pitts and Interrante. Pitts set a season high with her four thefts, while Interrante broke her career high.
- Brown was the only Valpo player to score in double figures, finishing with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Through eight Valley games, the senior is averaging 13.6 points/game and hitting at a 48.9% clip from the 3-point line.

...at UNI
- UNI opened the game with a 10-2 lead. Valpo closed to within 12-11, but the Panthers closed the first quarter on a 12-0 run to lead 24-11 at the end of the period.
- Valpo was within 30-18 with seven minutes to play in the opening half. That was as close as Valpo would get in the second quarter, however, as UNI led 44-28 at intermission.
- Valpo’s chances of mounting a comeback took a hit to start the third quarter when the Panthers opened the period on a 10-3 run to push their lead to 54-31. The Beacons were unable to get any closer than the halftime margin, as UNI led 68-45 with 10 minutes to play and extended its lead in the final quarter.
- Valpo surrendered 89 points to the Panthers after giving up fewer than 70 points in each of its last five games. The 89 points allowed, 53.6% FG% (30-of-56) and 10 3-pointers made were each the second-most by a Valpo opponent this year, trailing only the Beacons’ loss to Bowling Green.
- The Beacons shot 42.2% (19-of-45) for the game and hit at a 42.1% (8-of-19) clip from the 3-point line, their best shooting percentage of the year from deep.
- Turnovers were the big difference in the ballgame, as Valpo committed 22 miscues, 12 of which were UNI steals, while the Panthers turned the ball over just 12 times. UNI held a massive 31-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
- Olivia Brown led the Valpo offense with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, knocking down a pair of triples and handing out three assists.

...looking ahead
- A stretch of three games in five days continues with home games at the ARC this weekend against Illinois State (Jan. 27) and Bradley (Jan. 29).
- It’s three in a row at home following Wednesday’s game for the Beacons, as Valpo welcomes UIC to town next Wednesday.

...on the road
- Wednesday’s game is the ninth of 14 true road games for Valpo this season and the final nonconference road game.
- The Beacons are 1-7 so far this season on the road and posted a 5-11 record in true road games last season.

- Wisconsin enters Wednesday’s game at 6-14 overall and 2-7 in Big Ten play.
- The Badgers have lost their last three games after winning back-to-back conference games.
- Valpo is the third MVC opponent on Wisconsin’s schedule this year - the Badgers previously beat Bradley (103-49) and lost to Illinois State (62-57).
- All five Wisconsin starters average between 11.0 and 12.8 points/game. Julie Pospisilova on the high end at 12.8 points/game and a team-best 4.2 assists/game as well. Pospisilova scored 23 in the Badgers’ OT win over Valpo two seasons ago.

Facing the B1G
- Mary Evans has not been shy about having her team take on Big Ten opponents since taking the helm of the Valpo program prior to the 2018-19 season.
- This year, Valpo has a pair of non-conference matchups at Big Ten teams, facing Northwestern and Wisconsin.
- Counting this season’s games, the Beacons will have faced nine Big Ten opponents in Evans’ five seasons - Illinois, Northwestern and Wisconsin twice apiece, as well as Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan State once each.
- Back in 2020-21, Valpo claimed a pair of Big Ten road wins with victories at Illinois and at Purdue, and came within an overtime decision of winning at Wisconsin that season as well.

Step Out of Conference
- Valpo has a rare chance to compete in nonconference action in the middle of the conference schedule on Wednesday evening.
- It is the first time Valpo has played a nonconference game after the start of league play since the 2008-09 campaign, when Valpo played Chicago State in mid-February.
- It’s the first time the program has gone on the road for a nonconference game after the onset of league play since a game at IPFW in mid-January of the 2006-07 season.

Connecting From Inside
- Valpo’s ability to hit shots from inside the arc has been a strong indicator of its success so far this season.
- In the Beacons’ victories, they have hit at a combined 56.4% clip from 2-point range and have been better than 50% in all three wins.
- Meanwhile, in its losses, Valpo has hit just 46.3% from 2-point range.
- The last three games have epitomized this, as the Beacons were 19-of-33 (57.6%) from inside in the win over Missouri State before going just 11-of-26 (42.3%) on 2-point shots on Thursday evening in the loss at UNI and 7-of-20 (35.0%) on Saturday in the loss at Drake.

Improvement on the Glass
- This year’s Valpo team has been the best in terms of rebounding margin in the tenure of head coach Mary Evans, and the Beacons have been even better within conference play.
- In their eight nonconference games, the Beacons were a -5.6 in rebounding margin and surrendered 6.8 more offensive rebounds per game than they grabbed.
- Since the start of MVC play, Valpo has been just -2.9 in rebounding margin and has surrendered just 1.3 more offensive rebounds per game than it has tallied.
- The win over Missouri State was especially notable - Valpo enjoyed a 28-23 advantage on the glass, a +5 edge that came against a Missouri State team which outrebounded the Beacons by a combined 36 boards in last season’s two matchups, and which had enjoyed a double-figure rebounding advantage in each of its last four games.
- The Lady Bears’ 23 rebounds were their lowest total since Feb. 11, 2018.
- Valpo surrendered just five offensive rebounds to MSU, which totaled 40 offensive rebounds in last year’s two meetings. In fact, the Beacons ended up with seven offensive boards of their own and outscored MSU in second-chance points, 13-8.

Knockdown Shooter
- Senior Olivia Brown has been a deadeye from beyond the 3-point line this season.
- Brown is hitting at a team-best 44.6% clip from downtown, a mark which would rank third in program history for a single season, and is in the top-5 in the MVC in 3-pointers/game as well.
- Brown hit a career-best six 3-pointers in the Valley opener at Belmont, a springboard to an even better performance from deep in MVC play so far.
- Brown leads all MVC players within conference-only play, hitting 48.9% of her 3-point attempts.
- Brown’s 42.2% accuracy from deep in her two seasons at Valpo ranks second on the program’s career 3-point percentage chart.

Efficient Scorers
- Valpo’s top four scorers are all racking up their points in efficient fashion this season.
- Two of the top four are hitting at better than a 50% clip from the field - Leah Earnest (10.7 ppg, 51.6% FG%) and Ilysse Pitts (6.1 ppg, 51.5% FG%).
- The other two of the top four scorers, while below 50% overall, are both above 40% from the 3-point line - Olivia Brown (12.5 ppg, 46.0% FG%, 44.6% 3PT%) and Ali Saunders (10.0 ppg, 46.4% FG%, 40.6% 3PT%).
- Per HerHoopStats.com, all four players are averaging between 1.16 and 1.25 points per scoring attempt (defined as a field goal attempt or free throw trip).

Heartbreaking Losses
- Valpo’s loss at UIC 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.

Earnest Crashes the Boards
- Junior Leah Earnest has been one of the Valley’s most effective rebounders this season, averaging 7.8 rebounds/game.
- She has posted six double-figure rebounding performances this year - most recently a 10-board effort against Indiana State.
- 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.

Setting Career Bests
- Ilysse Pitts’ explosive performance against Missouri State, where she more than doubled her previous career best of 11 points with a 24-point game in the win over the Lady Bears, was just the latest in a string of career-best performances on the offensive end from Valpo players this year.
- Remarkably, a pair of Valpo players have set career highs in the scoring column this season despite being scoreless at halftime of the respective games - Maya Dunson versus Indiana State (14) and Ava Interrante at Western Illinois (15).
- 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.