Valparaiso hung with #24/22 Green Bay for the first 25 minutes on Saturday afternoon before the Phoenix went on a 24-2 run midway through the second half to defeat the Crusaders 78-54 in front of 3,039 fans at the Kress Center in Green Bay, Wis.
“We really battled for 28 minutes of the ball game,” head coach Keith Freeman said. “We played as hard as we could. We didn’t always execute, but we had it within three. We shot the ball better tonight, but we didn’t handle the ball well. They had 39 points off of turnovers.”
Raegan Moore (Girard, Pa./Girard H.S.) led the Crusaders with 17 points off of the bench, including an 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line. She was Valpo’s only player in double figures.
“Raegan did a great job of scoring for us,” Freeman added.
Valpo started off firing on all cylinders from the floor, making 10 of its first 12 shots from the floor, including 6-of-6 from long range. Turnovers proved costly in the first half though, as 16 miscues led to 21 Green Bay points.
The Crusaders scored the game’s first five points, and, after a Phoenix triple, Betsy Adams (Monticello, Ind./Monticello H.S.) made it 8-5 Valpo at the 16:22 mark with a long ball of her own.
Green Bay answered with an 8-0 run, only to be ended with another Adams triple. Kelly Peller (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton H.S.) made Valpo’s fourth straight three at the 11:48 mark to tie the game at 17 before the Phoenix went on another 10-0 spurt.
A 7-1 Valpo run cut the deficit to four, 28-24, after Lauren Kenney (Mooresville, Ind./Mooresville H.S.) scored inside, but Green Bay again answered, pushing the lead back to nine, 33-24.
The Crusaders did not make a field goal the final 5:10 of the first half, but made all six free throws to cut the deficit to 40-33 at the break.
Valpo shot 62.5% (10-of-16) from the floor in the first half, including 6-of-8 (75%) from long range. Green Bay connected on 14-of-24 (58.3%) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.
The Crusaders came out of the locker room and immediately cut into the lead. Kenney drained a jumper from 16 feet and followed with a lay-in, cutting the Phoenix lead to 46-43 with 16 minutes to play.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Heather Golden and Hannah Quilling keyed 16 straight points by Green Bay as Valpo went more than five minutes without scoring, falling behind 62-43 with just under 10 minutes remaining.
The run continued, extending to 24-2 as Valpo managed just one field goal over 12:30, with the Phoenix building a 70-45 lead with just under five minutes to play, as Green Bay won its 30th consecutive regular season Horizon League game.
“Playing a team with so many weapons like Green Bay has and their home court advantage with 3,000 fans, it is a difficult environment to play in,” concluded Freeman.
After the sizzling first half, Valpo shot just 27.8% from the floor in the second stanza to finish the game shooting 44.1%. The Crusaders committed 26 turnovers and were outrebounded 33-23.
Adams finished with nine points while Kenney had eight points and a game-high eight boards.
Julie Wojta led Green Bay (18-2, 7-2 Horizon) with 14 points and seven rebounds while Kayla Tetschlag and Celeste Hoewisch added 12 points each. Sarah Eichler added 11 points as six Phoenix players scored at least eight points.
The Phoenix finished the game shooting 45.5% from the floor and 21-of-25 (84%) from the free throw line while committing just 15 turnovers.
Valparaiso (6-14, 3-6) will return home to the Athletics-Recreation Center for five of its next seven games beginning next Saturday evening when the Brown and Gold hosts instate rival Butler. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.
Game Notes: Green Bay leads the overall series 19-4 and has won four straight meetings … this was Valpo’s third game against a ranked opponent this season … Valpo had three blocks, giving the Crusaders 47 in 20 games, after registered just 45 all last season in 30 games … Moore’s 17-point game was her third double figure scoring game of the season … Kenney started for the first time in Horizon League action.