Looking to make it four consecutive road victories, the Valpo women’s basketball team led MVC co-leader Illinois State in Normal, Ill. at the end of the first quarter on Saturday afternoon, but the host Redbirds pulled away over the next three periods to earn a 78-49 victory.
How It Happened
- Valpo surrendered the first six points of the game to ISU’s Deanna Wilson, but came right back with seven of its own to set the stage for a back-and-forth opening period. Redshirt junior Emma Tecca (Tallmadge, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban [Akron]) scored inside, fifth-year Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic) connected on a 3-pointer and freshman Ali Saunders (Depauw, Ind./North Harrison) drove for a layup in the opening stretch.
- Trailing by one point in a minute to go in the opening period, the Beacons scored on back-to-back trips to lead 18-14 at the end of the first quarter. Junior Jayda Johnston (Roseville, Minn./Roseville Area) made a layup off a feed from Saunders, and in the closing seconds, the freshman took it herself for a 3-point play to push the lead to four points.
- Valpo scored just one basket over the first four-plus minutes of the second quarter, but the defense kept Illinois State from pulling away over that same span. The Beacons were still tied at 25 apiece with the Redbirds with 3:20 to play in the opening half following a drive and finish by junior Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH).
- The Redbirds closed the half on an 11-2 run over the final 2:23, however, punctuated by six points in the final 40 seconds to earn a 36-27 lead at halftime.
- Valpo was held to one field goal over the first 7:50 of the third quarter as Illinois State pulled out to a 56-35 lead with 10 minutes to play. The Beacons were unable to get closer than 18 points in the final quarter.
Inside the Game
- The loss snapped Valpo’s three-game winning streak, all of which had come on the road in the previous eight days.
- After shooting better than 50% in each of the last two games, the Beacons hit just 34.7% (17-of-49) from the field on Saturday and were just 7-of-29 from 3-point range.
- Valpo did hold Illinois State to 39.7% shooting from the floor (25-of-63), but the Redbirds hit 11 3-pointers — a season high for a Valpo opponent in MVC play. The Redbirds also committed nine fewer turnovers than the Beacons.
- Saunders paced Valpo with 12 points and dished out a game-best six assists to set a career high.
- Johnston joined Saunders in double figures, scoring 10 points to reach double digits for the third time this season.
- Earnest and Tecca shared team-high honors with five rebounds each. Tecca’s five boards were her season best and matched her career high from her time at Akron.
Valpo (7-20, 5-13 MVC) returns home for its final two games of the regular season next weekend, starting with a matchup against Murray State Thursday evening at 6 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPN+.