Valparaiso won for the fifth straight year at the State Farm Hoosier Classic on Sunday afternoon as the Crusaders traveled to Muncie, Ind. and defeated the event's host Ball State 61-49 to hand the Cardinals their first loss of the season.
The win was Valpo's fourth straight over Ball State in the series.
Trailing 7-2 early, the Crusaders went on a big first half run. A 17-2 spurt, keyed by two triples from Jamie Gutowski (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean H.S.) and another from Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.), put Valpo in front by ten midway through the first half. Another three by Myers pushed the lead to 15, 27-12, as Ball State went more than eight minutes between field goals.
The Cardinals fought back. A 10-0 run, including seven points by Julie DeMuth, brought Ball State back within five with 4:13 left in the opening half. Those would be the final points the hosts would score in the final stanza. Valpo added four late points and took a 33-24 lead into the locker room.
Valpo committed just two turnovers in the first half which helped open up the lead while also getting production off of the bench as the Crusaders' reserves outscored Ball State by 12 in the first half.
Ball State scored the first four points of the second half to move within five as both teams started slow in the stanza. Valpo slowly built the lead back up. A three-point play by Mayella Kuikhoven (Almelo, Netherlands/Saint Canisius H.S.) the traditional way helped make it 48-36 with 6:30 to play.
Leading 48-39, Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) drained a three from the left corner as the shot clock expired and then followed with a putback on the next possession to make it a 14-point advantage with four minutes to go. Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) banked one home to increase the lead to 16 and Valpo never looked back.
Myers led the Crusaders with 17 points, including four threes. Kuikhoven added 13 points and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds. Rietema added nine, all in the second half and Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) chipped in eight points and grabbed ten rebounds.
DeMuth led Ball State (5-1) with 14 points and ten rebounds while Tina Bolte added 13 points for the Cardinals.
Valpo shot 40.4% from the floor for the game, and 46.7% (7-of-15) from three-point range. The Crusaders committed just nine turnovers. The Cardinals finished just 31.6% from the floor and 3-of-20 (15%) from outside the arc.
Valparaiso (4-2) will head to Mount Pleasant, Mich. on Friday evening to face its third Mid-American Conference opponent of the season against Central Michigan. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CST.