The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team seized the opportunity to garner its first Missouri Valley Conference victory on Friday night in the team’s first ever Valley home game, defeating Illinois State 56-50 at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The Crusaders locked down defensively, limiting the Redbirds below 25 percent shooting and just 9.1 percent (2-of-22) from 3-point distance.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (8-6, 1-2 MVC) sprinted out to an early lead, utilizing a 7-0 run to grab a 9-2 edge with 5:52 left in the first, a spurt capped by a Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) 3-pointer.
- Senior Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) knocked down three shots early and owned seven of Valpo’s first 12 points. The Valpo lead fluctuated between four and seven before the Crusaders scored the final five points of the first quarter thanks to a 3 by Maya Meredith (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral) and a layup by Marlee Profitt (Medina, Ohio / Highland).
- The late-quarter burst boosted Valpo’s cushion to 10 at 22-12 after 10 minutes. The Crusaders shot 54 percent in the opening quarter while holding the Redbirds (6-7, 0-2 MVC) to 31 percent.
- The Crusaders went cold in the second quarter, making just one of their 13 field-goal tries (7.7 percent) and missing all five 3-point attempts. However, Valpo did knock down eight free throws in the quarter and was only outscored by four, 14-10, to take a 32-26 lead into the locker room.
- Four different Crusaders drained 3s in the third quarter, helping Valpo outscore Illinois State 16-13 during that period. The Redbirds didn’t turn the ball over in the third, but shot just 17.6 percent (3-of-17) while missing all five 3-point tries.
- The final quarter saw the Crusaders go cold offensively, as they made just one of their 11 shots. However, they went 5-of-6 at the free throw line and just one of Illinois State’s 10 3-point attempts found the basket in the final quarter.
- Illinois State’s Megan Talbot knocked down a 3 with 8:59 remaining to cut the lead to four at 48-44, but the next basket belonged to Franklin at the 7:30 mark, also a 3 to boost the lead back to seven.
- The Crusaders didn’t allow the Redbirds to get over the hump, as they couldn’t get back to within four until only 33 seconds remained. Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) and Franklin combined to go 4-for-4 at the free-throw line down the stretch to seal the victory.
Inside the Game
- The win allowed Valpo to move to 6-0 at the ARC this year and extend its home winning streak to eight dating back to last season. This marks the team’s best home start to a season since beginning 7-0 at home in 2005-06 and the longest home winning streak since winning 11 straight spanning the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.
- Illinois State’s 24.6 percent shooting was the lowest Valpo has held an opponent since Feb. 11 of last season against Northern Kentucky (21.3 percent).
- The Crusaders limited the Redbirds to just 2-of-22 (9.1 percent) from 3-point range. That was the fewest 3s made by a Valpo opponent and the lowest 3-point percentage by a Valpo opponent since Dec. 2, when Liberty went 1-of-19.
- The Crusaders made nine 3s and shot 40.9 percent from beyond the arc – their best 3-point performance since Dec. 15 against IU Northwest.
- Valpo has already shot better than 40 percent from 3 more times this season (5) than it did all of last year (4).
- The Crusaders improved to 8-0 when shooting a better free-throw percentage than their opponent and remained 0-6 when shooting a worse free-throw percentage than their opponent this season. The Crusaders shot 77.3 percent at the stripe to Illinois State’s 64.3 percent.
- Franklin, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, led the team in scoring for the ninth time in 13 games and rebounding for the seventh time this season.
- Franklin now has 1,478 career points, putting her 20 points away from tying and 21 points away from passing Sarrah Stricklett for second in program history. In addition, Franklin is 22 points away from becoming the second player in program history to reach 1,500 career points.
- This marked Valpo’s first win over Illinois State since Dec. 19, 1999, a 74-60 triumph in Bloomington. The two teams had met just twice since that game, Redbird victories in 2000 and 2016.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
On the First Valley Win: “It feels extremely good. I know all of our young ladies are pumped about getting that first Valley win. We did it the hard way; we didn’t shoot the ball very well overall, even though we did shoot well from the 3-point line and the free-throw line. It feels good to be back home and get back in the win column.”
On Being Able to Grind Out Wins: “It shows that we are growing in our mental toughness and trying to be more competitive and more determined to get the win down the stretch. Our defense shined in the fourth quarter. We subbed defense for offense and did a really good job of containing and contesting, which forced them to shoot over our hands. They didn’t get very many good looks late in the game. We did a good job of holding them off, and we went and pursued the ball well on the boards.”
The Crusaders will continue the three-game homestand on Sunday by welcoming Bradley to the Athletics-Recreation Center for the second straight season and the first time as a Missouri Valley Conference opponent. The tip is slated for 3 p.m. CT. Sunday’s game and every game for the remainder of the season can be seen on The Valley on ESPN3. Dave Huseman and Jamie Stangel will have Sunday’s ESPN3 call with Ben Ariano providing the radio play-by-play on 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live video, audio and stats can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.