Saying Valparaiso's defense showed up on Friday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center would be an understatement as the Crusaders held UMKC to just 20.4% shooting on the way to a 65-31 victory to open the Mid-Continent Conference schedule.
The 31 points allowed by Valpo set a new school mark for fewest allowed in a game, bettering the 20-year old mark of 34 set against Manchester on November 22, 1985.
Valpo started out strong, scoring the game's first six points and not allowing the Kangaroos to touch the scoreboard for the first four minutes of the game. UMKC went on a 7-2 run over two minutes to close within one, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the game.
The Crusader defense took over, allowing just four points on two field goals over the final 13:30 of the first half, shutting UMKC out for the final 7:05 of the stanza. A 14-0 run heading into the locker room gave Valpo a 31-11 halftime advantage.
Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) scored 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting inside as Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) continually found her open on her way to five first half assists.
Valpo turned the ball over just twice in the first half, both coming in the game's first two minutes. The Crusaders shot 48.1% for the half but it was the defense that helped build the lead. UMKC managed just four field goals on 25 shots (16%), including just 2-of-10 from three-point range. Valpo also forced eight first half turnovers leading to nine points.
The Crusader defense was just as strong to start the second half, allowing just two points over the first six plus minutes as the lead grew to 39-13 and Valpo coasted from there.
Braun finished the game with 17 points and seven boards in just 26 minutes of action, while Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph's H.S.) added a career-high eight points off of the bench for the Brown and Gold. Bechtold finished with five assists and no turnovers while tying her career high with seven rebounds. The senior point guard now has committed just three miscues over the last 186 minutes of action.
Krystal Taylor (Minneapolis, Minn./North H.S.) also grabbed a career-best six boards for the Crusaders.
Brittny Picconi led UMKC (2-10, 0-1 Mid-Con) with eight points. Valpo limited the Kangaroos' leading scorer to just 3-of-20 shooting on the evening as Picconi entered the game averaging 26.5 points per contest. Stephanie Brown added seven points and seven boards for UMKC.
Valpo finished the game shooting 46.0% from the floor, including 5-of-11 from downtown. The Crusaders committed just seven turnovers while dishing out 14 assists.
UMKC finished just 11-of-54 (20.4%) from the floor and just 2-of-15 (13.3%) from long range while turning the ball over 14 times.
Valparaiso (6-5, 1-0) has now won eight in a row at home. For head coach Keith Freeman, the win was his 199th on the bench of the Brown and Gold. Freeman will look for win number 200 on the Crusader sidelines when Valpo returns to action on Monday evening. Valpo heads to Rochester, Mich. to battle Oakland. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CST and the game will be broadcast live on www.sportsjuice.com.