It was a tale of two halves for the Valparaiso University women’s basketball team on Friday night at the Renaissance Coliseum in Peoria, Ill. The Crusaders struggled to make shots in the first half before a solid second half was too little, too late as Bradley defended its home floor with a 69-58 win. Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) led the Crusaders in scoring with 13 points.
How It Happened
- Bradley’s first run came early in the game when the Crusaders didn’t score for 4:21 during the first quarter, allowing the Braves to embark on an 11-0 run to turn a 4-2 Valpo lead into a 15-4 Bradley advantage. Hamlet scored on consecutive possessions to shrink the lead to seven, but then Bradley scored the final six points of the quarter to take a 21-8 lead after 10 minutes.
- The Braves shot 50 percent in the opening period, while the Crusaders knocked down just 4 of their 17 field-goal attempts.
- Another Bradley run, this time 9-0, ballooned the lead to 23 at 33-10 with 3:10 to go in the second quarter. Maya Meredith (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral) stemmed the tide by burying a triple with 2:24 remaining in the half, ending a scoring drought of 3:03.
- Valpo shot 18.2 percent in a low-scoring first half and found itself down 35-14 at the break.
- The Crusaders started the third quarter with Marlee Profitt, Georgi Donchetz, Maya Meredith, Addison Stoller and Caitlin Morrison on the floor – a group that featured only one starter. That assemblage of players provided a spark, cutting the lead from 23 to 16 with 6:03 left in the third quarter.
- The Crusaders fought their way back into the game, outscoring Bradley 23-17 in the third and 21-17 in the fourth. Valpo shot nearly 50 percent in the second half at 15-of-31, a sharp juxtaposition to the opening 20 minutes.
- Hamlet scored nine of her team-high 13 points in the second half, including a 4-of-4 performance at the free-throw line. Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) had a quality second half as well, knocking down all three of her shot attempts for seven points.
- The Crusaders whittled what had been a 23-point deficit all the way down to six with 1:12 to play after a Morrison 3 made it 61-55.
- Bradley went 8-for-8 at the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the victory.
Inside the Game
- Gabi Haack turned in a double-double of 13 points and 11 boards for the Braves, while Vanessa Markert (12) and Shunseere Kent (14) also finished in double figures.
- The Crusaders limited the Braves to just 2-of-19 (10.5 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc. Valpo has held its opponent to two made 3s or fewer three times this season, but dropped two of those games. Valpo prevailed 56-50 when Illinois State went 2-of-22 on Jan. 5, but fell 61-40 despite holding Liberty to 1-of-19 on Dec. 2.
- Valpo won the turnover battle 22-20 and had 13 steals to Bradley’s 12.
- Meredith fouled out for the first time in her career and Morrison did so for the first time this season. Both had strong second halves before exiting as Meredith finished the game with nine points while Morrison had seven points and four rebounds.
- Morrison and Franklin finished the game with four steals apiece. Morrison matched her career high in that area as she also had four a week ago against Evansville.
The Crusaders will continue the swing trip on Sunday afternoon as they tip off at 1 p.m. CT at Illinois State. The game can be seen on The Valley on ESPN3 or heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso with Ben Ariano (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (color commentary) providing the hometown call. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.