The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team saw its season reach its end in the quarterfinals of Hoops in The Heartland on Friday afternoon in Moline, Ill. The Crusaders fell 89-40 to top-seeded Drake in what proved to be the final collegiate game for seniors Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) and Georgi Donchetz (Savage, Minn. / Burnsville).
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (13-18) got on the board at the 7:57 mark when Franklin drained a triple on a great find from freshman point guard Nicole Konieczny (Granger, Ind. / South Bend) at the end of the shot clock.
- That marked the only basket for Valpo in the first five minutes of the game, as the Crusaders went just 1-of-8 from the field. The Crusaders set up the looks they wanted in the early going, but the shots didn’t fall. Drake (24-7) had 10 rebounds in the first five minutes, four of them on the offensive glass.
- Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) knocked down a transition triple with 15 seconds left in the opening quarter to end a 19-0 run and make it 23-6, which is where the score stood after one quarter.
- A key disparity in the first quarter came on the boards, where Drake outrebounded Valpo 17-9. In addition, Drake went 9-of-10 at the free-throw line, while Valpo did not make its way to the stripe.
- After a late basket in the first quarter, Morrison swished a trey on the first possession of the second quarter after being set up by good ball movement, then she nailed a midrange jumper on the second possession of the period.
- Morrison stayed red hot by hitting her third 3 of the game with 7:37 to go in the first half. By that early juncture, she had already matched her career high of 11 points and eclipsed her previous season best of 10.
- By the time halftime hit, Drake’s lead was 46-18. The Crusaders shot just 15.6 percent in the opening half, including 1-of-14 (7.1 percent) on shots from inside the arc, as four of the five made baskets came from 3.
- Drake closed the third quarter on a 10-0 run, expanding the lead to 70-24 after three quarters.
- The Bulldogs also outscored Valpo in the fourth 19-16, punching their ticket to Saturday’s semifinal.
Inside the Game
- Morrison shattered her previous season best of 10 points (Jan. 26 vs. Evansville) early in the second quarter. Her initial career best came in last year’s Horizon League Tournament game against Youngstown State, when she poured in 11 points, a mark she matched on Friday. The top two scoring outputs of her Crusader career have both come in conference tournament contests.
- Morrison also led the team in rebounds with seven, while Meredith Hamlet dished out a team-best five assists.
- Valpo racked up 10 blocked shots in the game, the first time since Feb. 27, 1993 the Crusaders have had 10 or more blocks in a single contest. The 10 blocks in a single game is tied for sixth in program history.
- Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis. / Rice Lake) and Marlee Profitt (Medina, Ohio / Highland) had three blocks apiece, both tripling their previous career high of one.
Inside the Season
- The Crusaders finished with 13 wins, their highest total since 2008-2009, when they won 16 games.
- As a team, Valpo finished with a scoring average of 65.1, which marks the team’s best since 2007-2008 (66.3).
- Valpo finished the season with a team free-throw percentage of 76.0, which ranks second in program history. The program record is 77.6 percent, set during the 2013-14 campaign.
- Valpo finished the season with 112 blocked shots, fifth in program history.
- Franklin finished this season with 485 points, which ranks fifth in program history. Franklin also owns second in program history for points in a single season as she scored 559 as a junior.
- Franklin’s final season scoring average of 15.6 points per game is tied for ninth in program history.
- The Valpo senior also finished the season in the Top 10 in field goals made (177, sixth), field goals attempted (472, second) and free-throw percentage (86.7, second).
- Entering her senior season, Hamlet already ranks 18th in program history with 949 career points. She also ranks seventh with 153 career made 3-pointers.
Inside the Careers
- The Crusaders wave goodbye to a pair of impactful seniors. Donchetz played in 68 games, made 12 starts and scored 217 points to go along with 149 rebounds and 74 assists over her four years as a Crusader.
- Franklin finishes second on Valpo’s all-time scoring list with 1,721 career points and fifth in rebounding with 713. She is the only player in program history in the Top 5 for both scoring and rebounding and is the only player to reach 1,500 points and 700 rebounds.
- Franklin played in the 121st game of her legendary career on Friday, allowing her to move into sole possession of third in program history. She closed her career with 98 straight games and missed only two in her four years, both due to injury as a freshman.
- The Valpo senior shattered the program record for career free-throw percentage at 87.0 percent, obliterating the previous record of 83.8 set by Launa Hochstetler (2005-2009).
- Franklin finished in the Top 10 in program history in 12 statistical categories – points, rebounds, games played, free throw percentage, field goals made (639, second), field goals attempted (1,489, second), points per game (14.2, second), free throws made (260, sixth), 3-point field goals made (183, fourth), 3-point field goals attempted (503, fourth), rebounds per game (5.9, T-8th) and 3-point field goal percentage (36.4, sixth).
Thoughts from Acting Head Coach Justin Rees
“This is certainly not the outcome we wanted to have, especially for the seniors, but Drake is a heck of a team as we all know. We struggled right out the gate in the first quarter with the defensive lapses that we had in our zone. We tried to pack it in to limit some of their back cuts and some of their reads to make them play fundamental basketball instead of just using their athleticism. We had trouble getting back in transition and locating them, and they were able to go off. On the offensive end, we did a nice job of creating the looks that we wanted to get. We made some adjustments to create some openings. We got the great looks, and unfortunately today they just didn’t go for us. When you don’t shoot well against a team of Drake’s caliber, this type of result can happen. It definitely got away from us there at the beginning of the third, if not the end of the second.”
“We made adjustments and created the opportunities and the kids took the shots we wanted in open spots. But when you play a team of that caliber, even when they’re not there, they’re there, if you know what I mean. It was a little bit in our heads that we were playing a team as good as Drake, and for that reason we struggled to knock down open shots.”
“I’m really proud of our kids after everything we’ve been through the last few days. Our seniors have been through an unbelievable amount of circumstances, and to see them recover and bring this team together, especially these last few days, makes me really proud and excited to see where we go from here.”