February 29, 20241st2nd3rd4thFinal
Stats at a GlanceVALPOUNI
FG Percentage.370 (20-54) .534 (31-58)
3P FG Percentage.393 (11-28) .143 (2-14)
FT Percentage.800 (8-10) .737 (14-19)
Offensive Rebounds55
Defensive Rebounds2531
Total Rebounds3036
Bench Points1329
PointsJackson - 14
Boffeli - 19
ReboundsJackson - 9
Earnest - 9
Boffeli - 11
AssistsInterrante - 7
Morgan - 3
Wetering - 3
StealsJackson - 4
Goebel - 3
Laube - 3
BlocksInterrante - 1
Jackson - 1
Earnest - 1
Goebel - 2
Beacon Women Kick Off Road Trip with Leap Day Game at UNI
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Beacon Women Kick Off Road Trip with Leap Day Game at UNI
Katie Beyer and the Beacons start off the Iowa road swing Thursday evening at UNI.

Valparaiso (5-20, 4-12 MVC)
Game #26 - February 29, 2024 - 6 p.m.
at UNI (11-14, 10-6 MVC)
McLeod Center (6,650) - Cedar Falls, Iowa

Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valpo women’s basketball team embarks on its final road trip of the regular season this week, starting off Thursday night as the Beacons play at UNI.

Previously: Valpo was unable to overcome a 15-2 run to start the game by visiting UIC Sunday at the ARC, falling to the Flames by an 82-59 final. In the second quarter, senior Leah Earnest joined the program’s 1,000-career point club and finished the game with a team-best 16 points.

Following Valpo Basketball: Streaming Video: ESPN+
Links for live coverage: Available via ValpoAthletics.com

Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans is in her sixth year at the helm of the program in 2023-24 and owns a record of 60-111. Evans has made an impact on the program in her first five years, raising the team’s level of play to be competitive in a strong Missouri Valley Conference. The 2022-23 season saw Evans lead Valpo to the first win in program history over perennial MVC power Missouri State. The Beacons also won three consecutive road games in Valley play, the first time the program accomplished that feat against three different opponents since 2007.

Series Notes: UNI leads the all-time series by a 13-5 margin and is 6-1 all-time against Valpo in Cedar Falls. In this year’s first meeting, the Panthers led 38-20 at halftime on their way to a 76-52 win at the ARC. Freshman Saniya Jackson paced Valpo in that contest and tied for game-high honors with 16 points, while junior Katie Beyer scored a season-high eight points.

...and @ValleyHoops
- Valpo was picked to finish in 10th place in the MVC preseason poll, totaling 162 points, coming in ahead of Evansville and Bradley.
- Valpo is in its seventh season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
- The Valley was ranked 13th in conference NET last season. The MVC ranked 10th in conference NET in 2021-22, seventh in conference NET in 2020-21 and was eighth in conference RPI in 2019-20.

...looking back at last year
- Valpo finished last season with a 7-23 overall record and finished at 5-15 in MVC play, good for 11th in the Valley standings.
- The Beacons earned their first win in program history over perennial MVC power Missouri State.
- Valpo also won three consecutive road games in Valley play, the first time the program accomplished that feat against three different opponents since 2007.
- Ali Saunders was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team.

...versus UIC
- UIC scored 15 of the game’s first 17 points, jumping out to a 15-2 lead 5:08 into the game, and the Flames held a 21-12 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
- Valpo got to as close as seven in the second period on a triple by freshman Layla Gold two minutes into the quarter.
- It was still a single-digit deficit at the midway point of the quarter when Leah Earnest scored her 1,000th career point, but the Flames scored nine of the final 13 points of the half to lead 41-27 at intermission.
- Earnest connected on a 3-pointer right out of the locker room to make it an 11-point game, but that proved to be as close as the game would be in the second half. UIC led 63-41 at the end of the third quarter on its way to the win.
- Earnest finished with a team-high 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
- Jill Harris came up one point shy of her career high, scoring 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
- Valpo shot just 37.9% for the game, while UIC hit at a 55.8% clip. The Flames were 20-of-30 at the foul line to the Beacons’ 10-of-20 mark.
- The Flames outrebounded Valpo 44-26 and held a 50-34 advantage in points in the paint.
- Led by three steals from Olivia Brown, the Beacons tallied 10 steals, hitting double figures in that department for the 13th time this year.

...versus Belmont
- Valpo and Belmont were tied 8-8 at the first quarter media timeout before the Bruins scored the final five points of the period to lead 13-8 at the end of the first.
- The teams traded 12-5 stretches to start the second quarter. Belmont then scored nine points in a row to push its lead to double digits and led 41-29 at intermission.
- Belmont opened the third quarter on a 10-2 run over the first five-plus minutes to make it a 20-point game. The Bruins led 62-41 with 10 minutes to play.
- Leah Earnest scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to cut the Bruins’ lead to 19, but they scored the next 11 in a row to put the game away.
- Earnest posted game highs of 18 points and eight rebounds and paced the Beacons as well with five assists, just one off her career high.
- Earnest was joined in double figures by both Nevaeh Jackson and Saniya Jackson, both of whom ended the night with 10 points. Nevaeh Jackson also racked up a season-best five steals.
- As a team, Valpo tallied 12 steals — the 12th time this season it has hit double digits in that department.
- The Beacons shot just 35.1% from the field for the game and were just 5-of-27 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Belmont hit at a 57.7% clip and went 10-of-23 from deep.
- While Valpo committed one fewer turnover than Belmont (18-19), the Bruins held a 24-15 edge in points off turnovers. Belmont also enjoyed a 30-6 advantage in bench scoring.

...looking ahead
- The Beacons finish out their final road trip of the regular season Saturday afternoon at Drake.
- Valpo closes out the regular season at the ARC March 7 and 9 against Southern Illinois and Missouri State, respectively.

...on the road
- - Valpo will play 17 games away from home in the 2023-24 regular season, 16 of which will be true road games.
- The Beacons are 3-12 away from home so far this year and posted a 4-10 record in true road games last season.

- UNI enters Thursday’s game in fifth place in the MVC standings, with a 10-6 record in Valley play and a 11-14 overall mark.
- The Panthers fell by a narrow margin last time out at MVC-leading Drake, 79-77.
- Maya McDermott leads UNI, averaging 15.7 points/game and dishing out 90 assists on the season. Grace Boffeli adds 15.6 points/game on .502 shooting and a team-high 8.5 rebounds/game.

Looking at the Standings
- With just two weekends of play remaining in the regular season, every game is critical to final placement in the Valley standings and seeding for Hoops in the Heartland.
- Valpo currently sits in ninth place, two games back of eighth-place Indiana State.
- The Beacons are one game up on Southern Illinois and two games ahead of both Bradley and Evansville.
- Notably, if the Beacons are not the 11th seed, Valpo will avoid playing the latest game of the day on its first day of action for the first time since the 2019 tournament.

Leap Day Game
- The calendar fell just right this year for Valpo to play on Feb. 29 for just the fifth time in program history.
- Valpo’s last Leap Day game came back in 2016, a 72-65 loss at Cleveland State.
- Prior to that, Valpo played on three consecutive Leap Days in the 1980s - 1988 (W 79-69 vs. UIC), 1984 (L 79-77 [ot] at Saint Joseph’s [Ind.]) and 1980 (L 53-52 at Saint Joseph’s [Ind.]).

Reaching Milestones
- Senior Leah Earnest hit a pair of milestones last weekend.
- With her third rebound last Thursday against Belmont, Earnest hit 600 rebounds for her career, becoming just the 12th player in program history to hit that mark.
- Earnest currently owns 608 career rebounds, 34 shy of 11th place in program history.
- Meanwhile, with her eighth point Sunday against UIC, Earnest reached the 1,000-point milestone for her career, becoming the 18th member of Valpo’s 1,000-point club.
- Earnest ended the afternoon with 1,008 career points, seven shy of 17th in program history.
- Earnest is just the 10th Valpo player all-time with both 1,000 career points and 600 career rebounds - of the seven players currently eligible, five of them are members of the Valpo Athletics Hall of Fame.

Double-Digit Quarters
- Earnest scored 21 of her career-best 32 points at Illinois State in the first half, 14 of which came in the second quarter for the highest-scoring quarter of her career.
- It was the fifth time in Earnest’s career she has scored 10 or more points in a single quarter, four of which have happened this season - she scored 13 points in the fourth quarter of the home game against Illinois State, 12 points in the first quarter of the win over Chicago State and 11 points in the fourth quarter at UAB.
- Earnest is responsible for half of Valpo’s individual double-digit scoring periods this year. Nevaeh Jackson scored a Valpo season-best 17 points in the second quarter of the home matchup with Illinois State.
- Olivia Brown poured in 14 points in the third quarter of the Chicago State win, while Ella Van Weelden tallied 12 points on four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter at Southern Illinois and the second quarter of the home win over Bradley.

Taking Care of the Basketball
- Valpo continued its recent trend of taking care of the basketball last time out against UIC, committing just 14 turnovers.
- That came eight days after the Beacons’ effort at Illinois State, where they committed a season-low 11 turnovers.
- It was the program’s fewest turnovers in a game since committing eight miscues in the January 2023 home win over Bradley.
- After committing 20.4 turnovers/game over the season’s first 14 games, the Beacons have turned it over just 14.8 times/game over the last 11 games.

Downing the Braves
- There was little drama in either of Valpo’s wins in its season sweep of Bradley this year, as the Beacons led by double figures for the entirety of the second half of both their 68-50 win at Bradley and their 79-55 home win over the Braves.
- The 18-point road win was Valpo’s largest road win since an 88-66 win at Evansville Jan. 12, 2020.
- Valpo’s 24-point margin of victory in the home win was its largest since beating Western Michigan 75-51 in December 2020.
- It was the program’s largest margin of victory in MVC play since a 93-49 win over Evansville in January 2019.

A Dramatic Win
- The Beacons’ win at UIC went right down to the wire, as Leah Earnest converted a layup at the buzzer to give Valpo the 71-70 win.
- It was Valpo’s buzzer-beating victory first since Meredith Hamlet connected on a layup at the buzzer for a win at Chicago State Nov. 16, 2016.
- The one-point win was the program’s first victory by a single point since a 61-60 win at Northern Kentucky Dec. 30, 2015.

Another Leap Forward
- Senior Leah Earnest’s recent efforts have been part of a stellar step forward this season.
- Over Valpo’s last 11 games, Earnest is averaging 19.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
- Earnest had paced the Beacons in 12 consecutive games in rebounding, a string which was snapped last time out against UIC.
- Earnest enters Thursday’s game ranked fifth in the conference in scoring (16.1) and 10th in rebounding (7.2), while also averaging a team-best 2.8 assists/game as well.
- Earnest is on pace to become the first Valpo player since Debbie Bolen in 1991-92 to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists.
- Earnest has been consistent, scoring in double figures in 23 of 25 games to date.
- Earnest entered this season with a career high of 20 in the scoring column, but has hit that mark or better seven times this year, including a career-best 32 points at Illinois State to go with 13 rebounds.
- The 32 points are tied for the most by a Valpo player in the last seven seasons. Earnest came up just one point shy of cracking the program’s single-game top-10 chart.
- She is the first Valpo player with a 30-point double-double since Tabitha Gerardot went for 33 and 18 versus Wright State Feb. 28, 2013.
- Earnest is one of just 22 D-I players to reach 32 points and 13 rebounds in the same game this year and is one of just two MVC players to do so.
- The performance at Illinois State was just the latest of Earnest’s impressive stat lines this year. She posted 24 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in Valpo’s home win over Bradley - the first player in Valpo history to reach those marks in the same game, and one of just four D-I players this year (a group which includes Iowa’s Caitlin Clark [2x] and LSU’s Angel Reese) to hit those marks.
- Earnest tallied 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Beacons’ win at UIC. Only three times this year has an MVC player hit those marks in the same game, and Earnest’s efforts against Bradley and at UIC account of two of those instances.

Jackson Jackson
- The twins from Fort Wayne have been a big part of the Beacon squad this season.
- Saniya Jackson ranks third on the team with 8.8 points/game, a mark she has bumped up to 9.6 points/game - second-best on the team - in Valley play.
- Jackson has scored in double figures 13 times this year. She also leads the team and ranks among the top-10 in Valley with 42 steals, and ranks third on the team in rebounding as well.
- Meanwhile, Nevaeh Jackson is fourth on the team in scoring with 6.9 points/game, reaching double digits on seven occasions. Her scoring average has increased to 8.5 points/game in MVC play.
- She also ranks second on the team in rebounds, assists and blocked shots.

Youth in the Lineup
- The Beacons’ starting lineup has been 60% comprised of freshmen since Valpo’s second game of the MVC slate.
- Layla Gold made her first collegiate start at Southern Illinois, joining Saniya Jackson and Nevaeh Jackson in the starting five.
- It was the first time Valpo has started three freshmen since March 11, 2016, when Hannah Schaub, Meredith Hamlet and Amber Lindfors were in the starting lineup against Northern Kentucky.
- Gold’s insertion into the lineup was necessitated after Olivia Brown suffered an injury in the fourth quarter of the previous game at Missouri State which kept her out against the Salukis. It was the first game Brown had missed in her three years at Valpo, snapping a streak of 71 consecutive games played.

Thievery Abounds
- Valpo averages 9.7 steals/game and has been in double figures in steals in 13 games this season, highlighted by an 18-steal effort against Western Illinois Nov. 18.
- The 18 steals was the program’s best single-game mark since tallying 21 steals at Evansville on Jan. 12, 2020, and is tied for the second-highest output in Evans’ tenure as head coach.
- Two Beacons have had an eight-steal game this season - freshman Saniya Jackson did so Nov. 25 at UAB and fellow rookie Raeven Raye-Redmond did so in her collegiate debut in the aforementioned Western Illinois game.
- The duo are now tied for second on Valpo’s single-game steals chart, just one off the program single-game record.
- Prior to this year, the last Valpo player to tally eight steals in a game was Jeanette Gray against Houston in the 2002 WNIT.
- Raye-Redmond was the first MVC player to record eight steals in a game since UNI’s Ellie Herzberg did so against Indiana State on Feb. 19, 2017.