Valparaiso hit nine three-pointers in the second half and 12 for the game as the Crusaders broke open a one-point halftime lead on the way to a 69-54 victory over Southern Utah in Cedar City, Utah on Saturday evening.
Southern Utah jumped in front quick 8-2 before Valpo got going offensively. A 7-0 run put the Crusaders in front. Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) then got hot outside the arc, making three triples in a five minute span. The third put Valpo up 17-13 and marked the 133rd of her career, moving her past Kathryn Knoester (2000-2004) into sixth place on Valpo's career list.
Valpo began to become plagued by turnovers as Southern Utah went on a 9-2 run to retake the lead. Eleven turnovers in the first 16 minutes led to 11 Thunderbird points.
Valpo made 7-of-8 free throws in the final eight minutes to take a 28-27 lead into the break as the Crusaders made just one field goal in the final 8:22 of the stanza.
Julie Stradling led Southern Utah at the break with seven points and seven boards.
Three-point shooting extended Valpo's lead out of the intermission. Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.) hit two, Gutowski added two as well as one from Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) pushed the lead to 47-37 with 12:50 remaining.
The lead extended to 54-40 after another Myers trey with 10:30 to play in the game as Valpo continued to extend its lead which they continued to do throughout the second half on the way to their second straight win to remain in third place one-game back in the Mid-Continent Conference standings.
Gutowski, who was 6-of-9 from outside the arc, led Valpo with 20 points while Myers added 15 on five treys. Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) chipped in 14 points, ten in the second half. Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) grabbed a team-high ten rebounds as the Crusaders outboarded the Thunderbirds 39-33.
Cassie Hahl led Southern Utah (8-13, 1-9 Mid-Con) with 16 points, 14 in the second half. Charmaine Piula added 12 points while Stradling grabbed a game-high 12 boards.
Valpo shot 41.2% from the floor for the game, making 12-of-32 (37.5%) from beyond the arc. Southern Utah shot 34.5% from the field and was just 3-of-19 (15.8%) from outside. The Crusaders also were 15-of-17 (88.2%) from the free throw line.
Valparaiso (13-8, 7-3) will return to action on Monday evening as the Crusaders return to the Athletics-Recreation Center to face Centenary (3-19, 2-9). Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. with the broadcast beginning at 6:30 p.m. on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.