Valparaiso (17-12, 9-9 MVC)
at Hoops in the Heartland - TaxSlayer Center - Moline, Ill.
Game #30 - Friday, March 13 - 8:30 p.m.
vs. Bradley (22-7, 13-5 MVC)
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: After enjoying its best regular season in more than a decade, it’s a new season for the sixth-seeded Valpo women’s basketball team, as it heads to Hoops in the Heartland this weekend. The tournament opens for Valpo in the quarterfinal round Friday against third-seeded Bradley, with the Brown and Gold needing three victories to claim the MVC Tournament title.
Previously: Valpo closed out the regular season with a strong performance in a game which had a lot on the line, using an early fourth-quarter run to pull away from Southern Illinois for a 69-58 road victory Saturday afternoon. The win gave Valpo the sixth seed over SIU, enabling the Brown and Gold to avoid Thursday’s first-round action.
Following Valpo Basketball: Streaming Video: ESPN+
Radio: WVUR (95.1 FM-Valparaiso)
Live Stats/Streaming Audio: Available via ValpoAthletics.com
Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans (25-36) is in her second season as head coach of the Valpo women’s basketball program in 2019-20. Evans’ impact on the program was immediately clear in her first year, as Valpo shattered its previous program record of 224 made 3-pointers in a single season by knocking down 276 trifectas - a mark which ranks seventh in MVC history. Valpo ranked among the top-25 nationally in both total 3-pointers and 3-pointers per game in Evans’ first season at the helm of the Valpo program.
Series Notes: The Braves lead the all-time series over Valpo, 11-2, and are 5-1 in six matchups since Valpo joined the MVC prior to the 2017-18 season. Bradley earned double-figure wins in both meetings this year, winning 75-61 at the ARC and 90-69 in Peoria. The Braves shot 56.9% from the field and 41.2% from 3-point range over the two games, while Valpo was just 37.7% overall and 26.7% from deep. Shay Frederick and Caitlin Morrison tied for team-high honors, averaging 12.5 points/game over the two meetings.
- Valpo was selected to finish in eighth place in the MVC preseason poll, totaling 126 points.
- With its sixth-place regular season finish, Valpo matched Illinois State (picked sixth, finished fourth) for best finish in comparison to the preseason poll.
- Valpo is in its third season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2019-20.
...looking back at last year
- Valpo posted an 8-24 record last season in head coach Mary Evans’ first year at the helm and went 3-15 in MVC play.
- Last year’s Valpo squad was ravaged by injuries, many times dressing just nine scholarship players.
- Valpo shattered its program record for 3-pointers in a season in 2018-19, knocking down 276 triples to race past the previous record of 224.
- Valpo moved into seventh place in a single season in MVC history in 3PTM.
- Shay Frederick was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team, while Meredith Hamlet was an Honorable Mention MVC Scholar-Athlete.
...at Southern Illinois
- Valpo led 15-13 at the end of the first quarter despite needing over four minutes to crack the scoreboard.
- The second quarter was played entirely within a six-point span, with SIU taking a 34-33 lead into halftime.
- The third quarter proved to be a defensive-minded period, as Valpo limited SIU to just 10 points while scoring 13 of its own to pull ahead by two at the end of the quarter.
-Carie Weinman knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, which was played entirely within a five-point spread. Weinman’s second 3-pointer came in the waning seconds of the period and put Valpo on top 46-44 entering the fourth quarter.
- Valpo got the ball on the possession arrow to start the fourth and took full advantage, as senior Marlee Profitt drilled a 28-foot 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to extend the lead to five points.
- SIU scored on its first trip of the fourth quarter, but Grace White got a putback on the offensive end and then, following a stop, Grace Hales knocked down triple to force an SIU timeout as Valpo made it an 11-2 run and extended its lead to 54-46 with 8:06 to play.
- Out of the timeout, SIU’s Abby Brockmeyer scored inside, but that proved to be the last field goal for the Salukis for over five and a half minutes, as Valpo’s defense maintained its lead. The Crusaders forced a trio of SIU turnovers and the Salukis went 0-for-3 from the floor during that stretch.
- Valpo got the job done from the foul line to close out the game, as after going just 12-for-19 at the line over the first 38 minutes, the Brown and Gold were 9-for-10 at the stripe to close out the victory.
- While Valpo shot just 38.5% for the game, the Brown and Gold knocked down half of their 3-point attempts (8-for-16).
- Valpo also committed just 14 turnovers while forcing 17 SIU miscues in a battle of the MVC’s top two teams in the turnover margin department, outscoring SIU off of turnovers, 18-11. 12 of the 17 Saluki turnovers were Valpo steals, led by four thefts from White.
- White also paced Valpo offensively, coming off the bench to deliver 16 points in just 20 minutes of action (5-8 FG; 5-6 FT). She was one of four players in double figures, joined by Hales (15 points, 4-5 3PT), Addison Stoller (12 points, six rebounds) and Weinman (11 points, 2-3 3PT).
...at Missouri State
- The Lady Bears led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter and enjoyed a 23-18 lead at the end of the period.
- The Lady Bears extended their lead back to seven points early in the second quarter before Valpo reeled off seven straight to tie the game for the first time since the opening minute at 28-28 with 5:28 to play in the half.
- A four-point play by Caitlin Morrison with 48 seconds to play in the half erased most of what was at that a five-point MSU lead, and Valpo tied the game with seven seconds to play in the quarter before the Lady Bears’ Elle Ruffridge hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Missouri State a 40-37 lead at intermission.
- It took Valpo over five minutes into the third quarter to connect on its first field goal, a stretch which saw Missouri State extend its lead to double figures with a 10-3 spurt.
- The lead varied between eight and 11 points for the remainder of the quarter, with the Lady Bears holding a 65-54 lead at the end of three.
- Valpo was unable to get any closer than 10 points in the fourth quarter as Missouri State closed out the win.
- Thursday’s result was Valpo’s closest on the road against a nationally-ranked opponent since falling 58-50 at #12/11 Notre Dame in December 2005.
- Valpo was led by White in the scoring column for just the second time this year. The junior tallied 18 points, hitting three 3-pointers and going 7-of-8 from the foul line, while also grabbing five rebounds.
- Valpo’s trio of players averaging in double figures this season were limited to just a combined 15 points on Thursday.
- Valpo committed just 11 turnovers, its lowest total in MVC play this season.
- On the flip side, the Crusaders forced just 11 MSU turnovers and came up with just five steals in the loss. Both numbers were the team’s worst marks in MVC play to date.
- The Lady Bears, who secured at least a share of the MVC regular season title with Thursday’s win, grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and converted them in 28 second-chance points.
- With a win on Friday, Valpo would advance into a Saturday semifinal against second-seeded Drake, seventh-seeded Southern Illinois or tenth-seeded Evansville.
...away from home
- Valpo is 9-5 in true road games this year. The Brown and Gold went 4-2 in non-conference road play and owns MVC road wins over Indiana State, Evansville, Illinois State, Loyola and Southern Illinois.
- Valpo lost its lone neutral-site matchup of the 2019-20 regular season in the season opener to Ohio State.
- Valpo has won nine road games this season, the most road victories in a single season since the 2001-02 team won nine true road games - two of which came in postseason play in the WNIT.
- Valpo finished the MVC road schedule with a 5-4 record, its first finish over .500 in road conference action since the 2006-07 team went 5-2 in road Mid-Con games.
- Valpo has earned its three largest road wins in the last decade this season - a 22-point win at Evansville and 19-point wins at Detroit Mercy and at Indiana State.
- The 22-point win at Evansville was Valpo’s largest road win since a 66-41 win at Youngstown State on Jan. 14, 2010.
- Three of Valpo’s four road non-conference victories came by double figures - the first time the program won three road non-conference games by 10+ points since 1999-2000.
- Valpo had a five-game road winning streak earlier this year and went more than two months between road losses (Nov. 21-Jan. 31). The five-game streak on the road was the program’s longest since the 2004-05 team won five straight road contests Dec. 18-Jan. 5.
- Bradley enters Hoops in the Heartland with a 22-7 overall record, setting a program record with its 22 wins, and finished 13-5 in MVC play to earn the third seed.
- The Braves won their last two regular season games at Indiana State and at Evansville after dropping three of their previous four.
- Four Bradley players average in double figures, led by its three First Team All-MVC honorees: Lasha Petree (16.5 ppg, 50 blocks, 46 steals), Gabi Haack (13.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Chelsea Brackmann (11.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg).
What A Difference A Year Makes
- This year’s Valpo squad has already more than doubled its win total from last season, as last year’s team went 8-24 overall, while this year’s team enters Hoops in the Heartland at 17-12.
- It is already the second-largest improvement in the win column from one year to the next in program history.
- The 2001-02 team improved an astounding 19 wins from the previous season (7-22 -> 26-7).
- As of Tuesday, Valpo’s nine-win improvement was tied for 10th nationally, while its 10.5 game improvement in its record was tied for sixth nationally.
- Not only has this year’s team added at least nine victories to its ledger, it owns six more MVC wins than last season.
- Among the other nine MVC programs, only Bradley (+3 MVC wins; +2 overall wins), Loyola (+2 overall wins), Missouri State (+1 overall win) and SIU (+1 overall win) have already surpassed either their overall or MVC win totals from last year.
- With Saturday’s win, Valpo closed out the regular season with its best MVC record (9-9) in its first three years as a conference member and earned its highest finish in the conference standings.
- This year’s team is the first to finish at or above .500 in league play since the 2008-09 team went 10-8 in the Horizon League.
- Saturday’s win was the 17th of the season for the program, the highest total in a season since the 2006-07 squad went 20-11.
- Valpo has secured its first winning record since the 2008-09 campaign.
- The home victory over UNI on Feb. 28 was a win over a squad currently ranked 68th in the RPI.
- It was Valpo’s second win in a two-week span over a top-100 RPI team, as the Brown and Gold won at Illinois State, which currently sits 75th in the RPI, on Feb. 16.
- Prior to the victory over the Redbirds, Valpo had not defeated a top-100 RPI foe since a win over Detroit on March 9, 2013, while it was Valpo’s first road win over a top-100 team since the 2002 WNIT.
- According to WarrenNolan.com, Valpo’s record in games outside of quadrant 1 opponents is an impressive 17-4.
Second Half Improvement
- After going 3-6 in the first half of MVC play, Valpo posted a 6-3 record in the second half of the conference slate.
- Valpo turned first-half losses against Illinois State, UNI and Southern Illinois into wins in the second half, while completing regular season sweeps of Indiana State, Evansville and Loyola.
- The six wins in the second half of the MVC schedule was more conference wins than Valpo had as a whole in either of its first two seasons as an MVC member.
- After attempting just 13.1 free throw attempts/game over their first nine MVC games, the Brown and Gold averaged 24.3 FTA/game over the second nine games.
- Valpo’s turnover margin also improved by nearly three turnovers/game in the second half of MVC play, going from +2.1 in the first half to +4.9 in the second half.
Wins Versus Losses
- Looking at Valpo’s numbers in MVC play in wins compared to in losses, the difference comes mainly on the defensive end.
- In Valpo’s MVC wins, it limited opponents to 38.5% shooting overall and 24.3% from 3-point range, while forcing 22.4 turnovers/game.
- Meanwhile, in its conference losses, opponents shot 48.7% overall and 38.1% from deep and committed just 18.0 turnovers/game.
- On the offensive end, the 3-point shooting was nearly identical in wins and losses - 37.4% in victories, 37.3% in losses.
- The big difference came on the accuracy inside the arc - in MVC wins, Valpo hit 50.8% of its 2-point attempts, while in losses, it hit just 41.3%.
Success in the Postseason
- Valpo has won a conference tournament game each of the last four years and in seven of the last eight seasons.
- However, six of those seven wins have come in first-round action against teams seeded eighth or worse in the bracket.
- The lone outlier came in the 2016 Horizon League Tournament, where a ninth-seeded Valpo squad bested fourth-seeded Detroit before falling to fifth-seeded Northern Kentucky in the quarterfinales.
- Valpo has earned first-round wins in each of its first two years in the MVC, beating Indiana State last year and Loyola in 2018.
- A pair of Valpo players received postseason honors from the Missouri Valley Conference.
- Senior Grace Hales earned Honorable Mention All-Conference recognition.
- Hales led Valpo in scoring in the regular season at 12.2 points/game and ranked second in the conference both in free throw pct. (.890) and 3-point pct. (.434).
- The senior connected at a conference-best .519 clip from the 3-point line within MVC-only play.
- Hales also was a MVC Second Team Scholar-Athlete selection.
- Hales owns a perfect 4.00 GPA as a graduate student in the sports media program after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in communication last August.
- Sophomore Carie Weinman picked up All-Defensive Team honors as well.
- Weinman paced the conference both overall (2.2) and in MVC-only play (2.7) in steals/game.
- With 17 wins already under its belt, Valpo has put itself in a spot to potentially earn a postseason berth.
- 144 Division I women’s basketball teams earn a spot in the postseason (64 NCAA, 64 WNIT, 16 WBI).
- As of the end of play Tuesday, Valpo’s RPI sits at 133.
- The program has not appeared in the postseason since the 2003-04 team went to the NCAA Tournament.
- It wouldn’t be surprising to find sophomore Carie Weinman’s face on a Wanted poster, given the number of steals she has racked up this season
- Weinman tallied four or more steals in eight of Valpo’s 18 MVC games.
- Only six times through 29 games this year has Weinman not come away with at least one steal.
- The sophomore leads the Valley both overall (2.2 steals/game) and in MVC-only play (2.7/game) in the steals category.
- Weinman was named MVC Newcomer of the Week March 2 after averaging 13.5 points/game on 66.7% shooting and 4.5 steals/game against UNI and Drake, her third Newcomer of the Week honor of the season.
- With 65 steals, Weinman is seven shy of Valpo’s single-season top-10 in the category and ranks 63rd nationally.
Hales Making Her Mark
- Senior Grace Hales became the 16th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point milestone for her career with a basket in the final minute Jan. 31 at Drake and currently ranks 12th in program history with 1,123 career points.
- Hales reached the mark thanks to her consistency, as she has played in all 123 Valpo games since she stepped on campus, tied for second in program history in career games played. She has seen her scoring average go up year by year and is averaging a team-best 12.2 points/game this year.
- Hales ranks eighth on Valpo’s career 3-pointers made chart, as she currently owns 167 career triples.
- Hales also ranks among Valpo’s all-time best in a pair of shooting categories. She trails only current assistant coach Dani Franklin in career free throw percentage (.859), while she sits third in Valpo history in 3-point percentage (.380).
- In the MVC record book, which only counts years played in the Valley, Hales currently ranks fifth in free throw pct. (.872) and 16th in 3-point pct. (.399).
Frederick Helps Out
- Sophomore Shay Frederick cracked Valpo’s single-season top-10 for assists last time out in the regular season finale.
- With her team-best four assists in the win at SIU, Frederick now has 126 assists this year, 10th-most in a single season in program history - just two shy of ninth, four shy of eighth, and eight shy of seventh.
- The sophomore currently ranks second in the Valley in assists (4.3/game) and fourth in assist/TO ratio (1.73).
- Frederick has handed out at least six assists on eight occasions this year.
- With 232 career assists through just two seasons, Frederick already ranks 19th in program history in the category.
Threes and Thieves
- Valpo paces the Valley this year in both 3-pointers/game (8.6) and steals/game (10.3).
- This comes after ranking second in the MVC last year in 3-pointers and third in steals.
- Valpo ranks 14th nationally in 3-pointers/game and 27th in steals/game.
- After knocking down eight triples last time out, this year’s team owns 250 3-pointers this year - second-most in a single season in program history, trailing just last year’s total of 276.
- Valpo has hit at least 10 3-pointers in a game 13 times this year.
- The Crusaders registered 12 steals as a team in the regular season finale at SIU, the 16th time this year they have reached double figures in the category.
- With 300 thefts this year, the 2019-20 Valpo squad already ranks eighth in a single season in program history in steals. The 2001-02 team (330 steals) is the only Valpo team in the last quarter-century to have registered more steals.
- Valpo has trotted out the same starting five through each of its first 29 games of the season: Shay Frederick, Carie Weinman, Grace Hales, Addison Stoller and Caitlin Morrison.
- Hales and Stoller were regular starters a season ago, while Frederick joined the starting lineup midway through last year. Morrison was a regular starter each of her first two years as well before missing last season due to injury.
- Valpo has never had a season where the same five players started every single game. The 2007-08, 1997-98 and 1983-84 Valpo squads had four players who started every game of the season.