For the second straight day Valparaiso fell behind by 17 points in the second half and made a valiant comeback, but this time it was not enough as the Crusaders fell to Xavier (Ohio) 58-44 in the title game of the National City Bank Xavier Invitational held in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Crusaders closed to within three with 11:25 to play, but it was not enough as the Musketeers held on for the victory.
Xavier jumped out to a 12-3 lead as the Crusaders started out just 1-of-10 from the floor in the first seven minutes of the game. The lead was extended to 20-5 as Tara Boothe scored eight points in the first 11 minutes.
Valpo went on a 14-4 run in just over six minutes, keyed by seven points from Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.), to cut the deficit to five, 24-19, with 2:34 to play in the first half. The Musketeers would score the last six points of the opening half, however, and take a 30-19 lead into the intermission.
Back-to-back buckets by Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) early in the second half cut the Crusader deficit to 32-25 at the 15:39 mark. Myers hit a pair of triples, the second of which cut the deficit to three, 36-33, with 11:25 to play.
Xavier answered with a 9-0 run over the next minute and a half to push the lead back to 12. Another 7-0 run by the hosts made it a 54-37 advantage with 5:37 to play. Valpo would get the deficit back to 12, but that would be as close as the Crusaders would get the rest of the way.
Myers, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, led the Crusaders with 16 points, including four triples. Rietema added 13 while Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) grabbed eight rebounds.
Boothe, the tournament Most Valuable Player, led all scorers with 20 points for Xavier (3-1) while Suntana Granderson added 15. Michele Miller grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds, including five on the offensive end, as the Musketeers outrebounded Valpo 41-26 on the night.
Valpo, which shot just 28% from the floor in the first half, finished the game shooting 32.6% compared with Xavier's 41.7%. The Crusaders committed 20 turnovers which led to 23 Musketeer points and were outscored 42-12 in the paint.
Valparaiso (2-2) returns home to the Athletics-Recreation Center on Wednesday evening to host the Northwestern Wildcats. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.