Four players scored in double figures as Valparaiso picked up its second straight victory on Saturday afternoon, defeating Ball State 64-55 at the Athletics-Recreation Center as part of the State Farm Hoosier Classic.
With the victory, the Crusaders improve to 6-2 all-time in the event, tying for the best record with Indiana State among the four schools that have competed in the classic which has rotated between Butler, Indiana State, Ball State, and Valpo.
“It was a great team effort where we had many good contributions today,” head coach Keith Freeman said afterwards.
The Cardinals appeared to be the team with the momentum early, jumping out to a quick 8-0 start over the game’s first four-and-a-half minutes.
Launa Hochstetler (Berlin, Ohio/Hiland H.S.) scored on a lay-in to but Valpo on the scoreboard at the 15:22 mark of the first half and spark a 15-3 run for the Brown and Gold. Agnieszka Kulaga (Tarnow, Poland/I Liceum Ogolnoksztalace H.S.) scored 11 of the 15 points during the run, giving the Crusaders a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
With Valpo leading 25-22 with 5:34 remaining before intermission, Valpo went on another 10-0 spurt, holding Ball State scoreless for more than five minutes, before taking a 35-24 lead into the break.
Ball State scored 10 of the first 13 points to pull within four just six minutes into the second half. Valpo withstood the surge, and a put-back by Jasmine Ussery (Newburgh, Ind./Castle H.S.) pushed the lead back to eight, 47-39, at the 10-minute mark.
The Cardinals made one last run, cutting the lead down to two, 49-47, following a three-pointer by Audrey McDonald with 7:18 to play. Valpo scored the next eight points to take the lead back to double digits and kept the lead healthy the rest of the way.
“This was a hard fought game,” Freeman said. “We handled the ball well and sustained a good defensive effort for 40 minutes.”
Kulaga led the way for Valpo with 18 points, including her second perfect 6-of-6 effort from the free throw line in a row. Hochstetler added 11 points and five assists while Ussery also had a career-high 11 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting night from the floor. Aimee Litka (South Bend, Ind./Saint Joseph’s H.S.) added 10 points to complete the quartet of players scoring in double figures.
Kulaga and Hochstetler both played all 40 minutes while Litka sat out just a few seconds in the second half.
“With good play today we were able to control the tempo of the game and allow those player to play 40 minutes,” Freeman added.
Julie DeMuth led Ball State (3-4) with 18 points and nine rebounds while Porchia Green added 11 points and four assists.
Valparaiso (2-5) will look to make it three straight wins next Saturday at the Athletics-Recreation Center as the Crusaders host North Texas. Tip-off is set for 1:35 p.m. with all the action carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. The game will also can be viewed live online on the Horizon League Network.