The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team returned to the win column on Sunday afternoon at Meeks Fieldhouse in Evansville, topping the host Purple Aces 67-54 behind a 24-point output from Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington). Freshman Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis. / Rice Lake) was a key contributor off the bench, leading the team in rebounds with a career-high nine.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (12-15, 5-11 MVC) started the game strong, limiting the Purple Aces (3-24, 0-16) to three points over the first 6:15 of the game, in that time building up an 11-3 lead. Valpo played stifling defense in the first period, as Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) notched three early steals and Franklin grabbed a pair.
- Franklin also got off to a strong shooting start, knocking down three of her five first-quarter attempts. The Purple Aces did begin to put the ball in the hole late in the quarter, scoring 12 points in the final 4:45 to cut the lead to 22-15 after one.
- Neither team could find an offensive rhythm in the second quarter, a period that saw Evansville outscore Valpo 7-6. The Crusaders made just two of their 12 field-goal tries and missed all six 3-point attempts in that period.
- Foul trouble hindered Valpo late in the second quarter and early in the third. Four forwards had three fouls by the midway mark of the third, but the Crusaders withstood that obstacle.
- The game turned in the third quarter as Valpo closed the period on a 10-0 run, outscoring the Purple Aces 27-9 to carry a 55-31 lead to the fourth. After a slow shooting start to the game, Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) came through in the third with nine points on 2-of-2 shooting and 4-of-4 at the foul line.
- A key play occurred with 7:34 left in the third, when freshman point guard Nicole Konieczy (Granger, Ind. / South Bend Saint Joseph) completed an old-fashion 3-point play, bolstering the lead to double figures for the first time in the contest.
- The Crusaders used another old-fashion 3-point play late in the third, this time from Franklin, who expanded the lead to 21. Hales drilled a triple with seven seconds to go in the quarter, leading to a 55-31 edge with 10 minutes to play.
- The Purple Aces made a game of it late, going on a 12-0 run to cut the edge from 25 to 13. Evansville outscored Valpo in the final quarter 23-12, as most of the game was more lopsided than the 13-point final margin would indicate.
Inside the Game
- Valpo was led in scoring by Franklin’s 24, which came on 9-of-19 shooting and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. She grabbed seven rebounds and swiped a team-high four steals.
- After matching her career high with seven rebounds in the first game of the road trip on Saturday at Evansville, Ellenson boosted her career watermark to nine on Sunday.
- The Crusaders continued to do a strong job of holding down the opposing team’s leading scorer. They limited Hannah Noe to 2-of-18 shooting and eight total points.
- Georgi Donchetz (Savage, Minn. / Burnsville) dished out a season-high three assists off the bench for Valpo.
- Hales made her way into double figures despite a slow shooting start. She finished with 13 points including 8-of-8 at the free-throw line. The Crusaders thrived at the stripe, going 18-of-20 (90 percent).
- Valpo finished with a 24-14 advantage in the paint and at one point in the game owned a 20-2 edge on points in the paint.
- Valpo made only four turnovers in the second half after nine in the first half.
- Valpo played without three players as Taylor Richards, Marlee Profitt and Addison Stoller were all held out with injuries.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
Thoughts on the Game: “We started the game strong. We didn’t shoot the ball very well in the second quarter and we turned the ball over too many times in the first half, but we stayed focused and didn’t get down on ourselves on the defensive end. I still wasn’t very happy with how we executed and our foul trouble. We talked about that at halftime, and our kids came out really focused in the second half.”
“We rebounded well, got it to Nicole and she attacked hard and found people. We moved it well and got great looks. Dani got looks in the paint. We did a much better job attacking in the third quarter. We knocked down our free throws. We didn’t turn the ball over nearly as much in the second half. Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, we lost some of our focus. That’s unfortunate, but at the same time we’re shorthanded and we’re playing a lot of people out of position. We were able to continue to enjoy playing and finished out the game with a win.”
On Post Play: “Evansville doesn’t really have true post players, which made it a little easier to rotate people and not have to have our bigs on the floor at certain times. Dani, Bryce and Ella all played solid. Bryce and Ella did good things out there that don’t show up in the box score. It was hard for them to match up with us when we had our bigs on the floor.”
On Ellenson’s Rebounding: “That’s one thing we can always count on from her. She tracks the ball well and has long arms and good jumping ability. She found a way to get to where the ball was going. She rebounds out of her area and gets it. She hustles and makes plays. We have to get her to understand what she can do when she comes up with the ball. She did a good job today.”
On Defending Noe: “We tried to make it a focal point that we were there on the catch and didn’t give her wide open 3s. She took 13 of her 18 shots from 3. A couple were open, but we had made her rush so much before that that she felt rushed regardless. We did a strong job of knowing where she was. We played a factor in her misses and didn’t give her wide opens looks. We pushed her off the line and made her take shots from deep.”
On Franklin: “She posted up extremely well and made several outstanding moves. When they went zone, it opened up her midrange game. We made some extra passes to get her shots on the base line. She knocked them down. She was moving and in the right spot at the right time.”
Other Thoughts: “Grace didn’t shoot as well as she has been, but she attacked the rim and rebounded far better. Caitlin didn’t play a lot of minutes because she had a few fouls, but she had a couple key steals and played hard. Everybody played their role and played their part. Not everyone has the stat line to show it, but everyone contributed to the win.”
Valpo will return home for the final games of the 2017-18 regular season this week. The Crusaders start senior week by welcoming UNI on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. CT. The game can be seen on The Valley on ESPN3 with Brian Jennings (play-by-play) and Jamie Stangel (color commentary) describing the action. The radio call will be available on 95.1 FM Valparaiso with Danny Dalenberg (play-by-play) and Renee’ Turpa (color commentary). Live stats will also be available.