The Valpo women’s basketball season came to an end on Thursday night in the opening round of Hoops in the Heartland, the MVC women’s basketball conference tournament, in Moline, Ill., as sixth-seeded UIC defeated the 11th-seeded Beacons, 72-47.
How It Happened
- UIC scored the game’s first 10 points over the opening 3:38, forcing Valpo to use an early timeout.
- Trailing by 12, the Beacons strung together six straight points — including a basket in the post from junior Jayda Johnston (Roseville, Minn./Roseville Area) and a 3-point play from sophomore Olivia Sims (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame Academy [Oakland]) — to close to within 14-8 with 1:04 to play in the first quarter. But UIC hit a 3-pointer inside the final minute to lead 17-8 at the end of the period.
- Valpo scored the first four points of the second quarter on a mid-range jumper from redshirt junior Emma Tecca (Tallmadge, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban [Akron]) and a pair of free throws by freshman Ali Saunders (Depauw, Ind./North Harrison) to cut its deficit to five points at 17-12. The Flames responded with a 9-2 run, pushing their lead back to 26-14 with 3:25 to play in the first half.
- Valpo scored six of the half’s final eight points, including a 3-pointer by Tecca, to cut the UIC lead to 28-20 at intermission.
- The Flames opened the second half on an 11-3 run to push their lead to 16 points, a margin it held at 50-34 at the end of the quarter. Valpo got no closer than 13 points in the final quarter.
Inside the Game
- Tecca led Valpo with 11 points, one off her career best. She connected on three 3-pointers for the first time in her Beacon career.
- Tecca was the only Valpo player in double figures, as senior Olivia Brown (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids [St. Bonaventure]) was next up with nine points.
- Junior Leah Earnest (Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) pulled down a team-best six rebounds.
- Valpo shot just 37.8% for the game, while the Flames hit at a 46.6% clip.
- The Beacons committed 20 turnovers and forced just 11 UIC miscues, as the Flames held a 29-5 advantage in points off turnovers.
- UIC also tallied 13 offensive rebounds which it converted into 15 second-chance points, while Valpo had no offensive boards.
Inside the Season
- As a team this year, Valpo connected on 220 3-pointers, seventh-most in a single season in program history.
- Saunders cracked a pair of shooting percentage charts, as she enjoyed one of the best years in program history in both 3-point percentage (.427, 7th) and free throw percentage (.844, 8th).
- Brown also cracked Valpo’s single-season top-10 in 3-point percentage, as she sits in a tie for ninth, hitting at a .415 clip for the year.
Inside the Careers
- Two Valpo careers came to an end with Thursday’s loss.
- Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic) played in 111 games for Valpo over her five years on campus, starting all 30 games this season. She scored 355 career points and tallied 269 rebounds, 158 assists and 116 steals.
- Maya Dunson (Dayton, Ohio/Wayne [Loyola]) appeared in 77 games over her three years at Valpo. Overall for her collegiate career, she totaled 423 points and 251 rebounds.