The Valpo women’s basketball team traveled to Fargo, North Dakota Friday evening to take on the Bison of North Dakota State in its second game of the season. The Brown and Gold’s defense shined as they forced 22 turnovers in a 66-54 victory over NDSU.
How It Happened
· Valpo fell behind early against the Bison 8-5 before an Addison Stoller (Cissna Park, Ill./Cissna Park) 3-pointer tied the game up at 8-8 less than three minutes into the game.
· NDSU would go on an 8-0 run following Stoller’s triple to pull out to a 16-8 lead with 3:04 to play in the opening period. A Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind./Westview) layup followed by a Stoller layup would end the first quarter with Valpo trailing 17-13.
· Valpo came out strong to start the second quarter with Stoller hitting a three in the first 13 seconds to cut the Bison lead to 17-16.
· Both teams would go almost three minutes without scoring until NDSU would get a couple of quick layups to take a 21-16 lead. Valpo responded with a ten-point run over a five-minute span, featuring a pair of baskets from junior Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) and 3-pointers from junior Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis./Rice Lake) and sophomore Carie Weinman (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South [Denver]) to end the half with a 26-23 lead.
· Valpo forced 12 turnovers in the first half and converted those into seven points. The Brown and Gold outscored the Bison 13-6 in the second quarter.
· NDSU scored six of the first eight points to start the second half to regain the lead 29-28. Valpo would hit three 3-pointers on their next three possessions to take their largest lead of the game to that point, 37-31.
· The Bison would once again cut into the Valpo lead as they would go on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 44-43, but Stoller would hit two free throws left with three seconds to end the third quarter and take a 46-43 edge.
· Valpo would come out in the fourth quarter hot as Hales hit two free throws and then a layup to spark a 6-0 run and increase the lead to eight at 53-45 with 5:14 to play.
· Valpo continued to extend its lead, as Hales hit a 3-pointer and Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) got to the rim through contact to get Valpo to their first double-digit lead of the game at 59-48 with 2:42 remaining.
· Valpo hit 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to put the game out of reach and win 66-54.
· The Brown and Gold outscored the Bison 20-11 in the final quarter and held NDSU without a field goal for a seven-minute stretch.
Inside the Game
● Stoller led all scorers in the game with 21 points, shooting 50% from the field and going 3-5 from behind the arc to match a career high with three 3-point makes. It was her first 20-point effort of the year after having six such games a season ago.
● Hales added 14 points and tied a career-best with nine rebounds.
● Frederick chipped in seven points and four rebounds to go with game highs of four assists and three steals three steals.
● As a team, Valpo went 10-of-30 from the 3-point line while holding NDSU to 0-of-14 from behind the arc. It was the first time Valpo has held an advantage of at least 10 triples over its opponent since canning 13 3-pointers to Illinois State’s two on Feb. 3 of last season.
● The Valpo defense forced the Bison to turn the ball over 22 times in the game, with 21 points coming off those turnovers. The Crusaders would only turn the ball over eight times of their own.
● The +14 turnover margin was the largest single-game difference in Valpo’s favor since the Brown and Gold forced 27 turnovers while committing just 11 in a win over Colorado State on Nov. 22, 2009.
● The 12-point win was Valpo’s largest road victory since a 13-point victory at Evansville on Feb. 25, 2018.
● The Brown and Gold avenged last year’s 51-48 defeat to the Bison at the ARC.
Thoughts From Coach Evans
“I thought our players’ mental focus was tremendous and it showed today. They went out there and they executed our defensive game plan. North Dakota State did some really good things to try and manipulate our back-side help and try to take advantage of the fact that we were fronting. I thought our team made really good adjustments even in-game. There were something we wanted to do that we had to change on the fly.”
“Grace White, Illyse Pitts, and Ella Ellenson could all be starting if the situation was different. I don’t get into starting, it’s playing your role for this team and playing solid minutes while you are in there and I think that these young ladies understand that now and they are working together. They understand that if they do these things and they work together and play together on the court, then things can happen for them. It’s really more about the team and they understand that.”
Valpo (1-1) travels to Grand Forks, North Dakota to battle the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota (2-1) on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. and can be heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). The game can also be seen on Fox Sports North or online via UND’s website.