Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Crusader Defense Steps Up as Valpo Topples Northwestern

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Valparaiso's defense forced 15 first half turnovers and limited Northwestern to just 19.5% shooting from the floor in the second half as the Crusaders posted a 57-51 victory over the Wildcats at the Athletics-Recreation Center on Wednesday evening.

The Crusaders' victory was the third all-time for the Brown and Gold against a school from the Big Ten and marked the first time the two schools have ever met each other on the hardwood.

Northwestern jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead and led by as many as seven, 23-16, after a Sara Stutz three-pointer with 8:41 left in the first half. The Crusaders went on an 8-0 run in less than two minutes, keyed by triples from Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) and Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.) and took the lead after Krystal Taylor (Minneapolis, Minn./North H.S.) sank two free throws.

The lead bounced back and fourth before halftime, but the Crusaders took a 30-29 lead into intermission despite Northwestern shooting 57.9% in the first half.

Valpo's defense limited the Wildcats to just one field goal in their first 13 attempts of the second half while extending the lead to eight, 45-37, with 11:02 to play in the game. Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) conventional three-point play made it ten, 50-40, with 8:24 left, but that would be the Brown and Gold's field goal of the game.

Northwestern closed to within three, 50-47, after Julie Bielawski's jumper as Valpo went more than six minutes without scoring. Rietema made four free throws down the strech as the Crusaders hit six in the final 2:01 to secure the victory though.

Braun led the Crusaders with her third double-double of the season and 11th of her career with 18 points and ten rebounds, while adding four blocks. She went 7-of-15 from the floor. Rietema added 12 points and nine boards while Myers was the third Valpo player to tally double figures with 11 points.

A.J. Glasauer led Northwestern (2-2) with 13 points while Melissa Miller added ten points and 13 boards. Valpo limited Ifeoma Okonkwo to just six points on 3-of-7 shooting after she came into the game averaging 23.0 points per contest, ranking second in the Big Ten.

Valpo finished the game shooting just 32.2% from the floor but committed only 15 turnovers, including just five in the second half. The Crusader defense held Northwestern to 31.7% from the field and forced 20 Wildcat turnovers.

Northwestern outrebounded Valpo 49-41 but Valpo held a 20-12 advantage in the paint and a 12-6 margin on second chance points.

In the last seven seasons, the Crusaders have now defeated opponents from the Big Ten (three times, also Michigan in 2001-2002 and Indiana in 1999-2000), Pac-10 (Washington State, 2004-2005), Western Athletic Conference (Fresno State, 2002-2003), Atlantic Coast Conference (Wake Forest, 2001-2002)

Valparaiso (3-2) will continue its tough non-conference schedule on Sunday afternoon at the State Farm Hoosier Classic in Muncie, Ind. The Crusaders will face Ball State (5-0) at 3:30 p.m. CST. WVUR (95.1-FM) and www.valpo.edu/athletics will carry all of the action live with the pregame beginning at 3 p.m.
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