Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) registered a double-double and Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph's H.S.) scored a career-high 13 points as Valparaiso went on the road and defeated Oakland 69-55 on Monday evening in Rochester, Mich. to improve to 2-0 in the Mid-Continent conference. The victory marked the 200th victory on the Crusader bench for head coach Keith Freeman.
Braun recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds as Freeman improved to 200-133 all-time at Valpo in 12 seasons.
Offensively, Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) got Valpo on the board, scoring the team's first eight points. The Crusader defense helped forge an early lead as well, forcing turnovers on five of Oakland's first six possessions.
A 6-0 run put Valpo in front 19-12 midway through the first half. The lead grew to as many as eight, 34-26, before Oakland answered with a run. A quick 8-2 spurt, keyed by two three-pointers, cut the Crusader lead to two before Braun scored on a putback with three seconds remaining to give Valpo a 38-34 lead at the break.
Braun scored 13 in the first half while Rietema had ten for the Crusaders. Valpo shot 55.6% in the first half, but committed 11 turnovers. Oakland was guilty of 14 miscues which offset 14-of-22 shooting (63.6%).
Valpo jumped out in front by seven 43-36 right out of the intermission, but six straight points by the Golden Grizzlies' April Kidd brought Oakland back to within one. A pair of baskets by Mayella Kuikhoven (Almelo, Netherlands/Saint Canisius H.S.) sandwiched around a backdoor lay-in Litka put Valpo back in front 54-47 with nine minutes to play.
A falling away three as the shot clock expired by Litka pushed the lead to double figures, 65-53, with 2:24 to play and Valpo picked up the victory on the road for the third straight year in Rochester.
Rietema also had 15 points for the Crusaders while Litka and Kuikhoven each added 13 more. Kuikhoven also had a career-best four steals while Litka had a personal-best seven rebounds, including four on the offensive end.
Kidd led Oakland (4-8, 0-2 Mid-Con) with 14 points while Jayme Wilson added ten more. Oakland shot just 33.3% from the floor in the second half and finished at 46.9% for the game while committing 20 turnovers.
Valpo finished shooting 48.1% and outrebounded the Golden Grizzlies 31-28.
Valparaiso (7-5, 2-0) will return to action on Wednesday evening as the Crusaders head to Shreveport, La. to battle Centenary. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. with all of the action broadcast live on WVUR (95.1-FM).