Valpo rolls to third straight win, downs Detroit Mercy Thursday morning

By: Valparaiso University Last Updated: December 6, 2019

An earlier than normal start time didn’t faze the Valpo women’s basketball team on Thursday, as Valpo came out for the 11 a.m. local tip and led nearly start to finish, winning 77-58 at Detroit Mercy in front of a crowd of better than 4,500 on Field Trip Day at Calihan Hall. The victory extended Valpo’s winning streak to three games and gave the team its third road victory of the season in five tries.

How It Happened

-          Senior Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind./Westview) scored Valpo’s first five points of the game, and then it was time for sophomore Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) to take over. Frederick scored eight straight points over just three possessions to give Valpo a 13-7 lead about four minutes into the game.

-          The Titans scored eight straight points of their own to regain the lead, and still led 17-15 with 90 seconds to go in the opening quarter. But Frederick scored the last five points of the period for the Brown and Gold, the final two coming on a driving layup in the waning seconds which gave Valpo the 20-19 lead at the end of one.

-          Valpo connected on 3-pointers of each of its first two possessions of the second quarter, coming from juniors Grace White (Redby, Minn./Red Lake [Denver]) and Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis./Rice Lake), to force a quick Detroit Mercy timeout with the lead 26-19.

-          The Brown and Gold extended their lead to 10 points for the first time at 31-21 on a triple by sophomore Carie Weinman (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South [Denver]) with eight minutes to play in the first half before the Titans put together an 11-2 run to close to within 33-32 approaching the halfway mark of the period.

-          White responded to Detroit Mercy cutting the lead to one by connecting on her second triple of the quarter, kick-starting an 11-1 run to end the half for Valpo as it led 44-34 at intermission. Hales hit a 3-pointer as part of that run as well as Valpo drilled five 3-pointers in the second quarter alone.

-          After a high-scoring first half, the third quarter was more of a defensive struggle as Valpo out-scored the Titans in the period, 12-11.

-          Detroit Mercy strung together six straight points to cut the advantage to 51-45 with less than 90 seconds to go in the quarter, but junior Addison Stoller (Cissna Park, Ill./Cissna Park) hit a 3-pointer and Weinman then hit a cutting Marlee Profitt (Medina, Ohio/Highland) for a basket at the rim on Valpo’s final two offensive possessions of the quarter, giving it a 56-45 lead at the end of the third.

-          Valpo scored eight of the first 11 points in the fourth quarter to push its edge to 64-48 with 8:25 to play, and the lead wouldn’t drop under 13 points the rest of the way as the Crusaders closed out the win.

Inside the Game

-          The three-game winning streak is Valpo’s longest since winning four straight games Dec. 10-21, 2017. It is Valpo’s first winning streak of at least three consecutive games against all Division I opponents since three straight wins over Ball State, Northern Illinois and Youngstown State, Dec. 29, 2012-Jan. 12, 2013.

-          Thursday’s win marked Valpo’s third true road win of the year in five true road games so far. The three road wins already have surpassed last year’s total of two true road victories. In fact, this year’s squad is now just one shy of matching the program’s highest total of road wins in a season over the last decade, as the 2017-18 and 2011-12 teams won four road games apiece.

-          Combining Thursday’s win with last Wednesday’s victory at Toledo, Valpo has won back-to-back true road games for the first time since Feb. 4 and 11, 2012 at Cleveland State and at Butler.

-          It was a balanced team effort to get the job done on Thursday, as three Valpo players scored in double figures and two others added eight points each. Hales led the way with a game-high 17 points, knocking down all four of her attempts from inside the 3-point line, and also tied for team-high honors with six rebounds. The senior did see her streak of 30 consecutive made free throws come to an end as she missed her first attempt of the day before bouncing back with three in a row to end the game.

-          Frederick sparked Valpo in the first quarter, as all 13 of her points came in the opening 10 minutes. The sophomore dished out a game-best five assists as well.

-          Stoller rounded out the Valpo trio in double figures with 13 points of her own, including a 6-for-7 effort from the foul line, and matched Hales with six rebounds.

-          White and Weinman each chipped in eight points as well.

-          In all, Valpo played all 12 players who dressed on Thursday and 11 of them scored at least two points. Included in the scoring ledger was freshman Zoe MacKay Zacker (St. Charles, Ill./Montini Catholic), who made her Valpo debut in the fourth quarter and converted a layup for her first career points.

-          Valpo finished the game shooting 47.3% from the floor and 83.3% (15-of-18) from the foul line. The Crusaders were 10-for-28 (35.7%) from the 3-point line, with six different players combining on the 10 triples.

-          Valpo reached double figures in 3-pointers made for the fourth time in the first seven games this year. Last year’s squad took 16 games before hitting 10 or more 3-pointers for the fourth time.

-          Meanwhile, on the defensive end, Valpo limited Detroit Mercy to 5-of-23 shooting (21.7%) from the 3-point line and forced 25 Titan turnovers. 12 of those turnovers were Valpo steals, as White, Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) and Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic) tallied three steals apiece.

Thoughts From Coach Evans

“These games can present a challenge, being earlier in the morning than you're used to playing and coming with a lot of distractions in terms of the number of kids in attendance - it gets you out of your normal routine. I think that maybe played a part in us coming out slow in the first quarter, but after that, we were able to settle in, especially on the defensive end. We played pretty well for the last three quarters on defense.”

“We've got quite a few pieces in our rotation this year who saw significant minutes last year - three in our starting lineup and players coming off the bench as well - who understand our offensive philosophy having played in it for over a year now. We've got a few newcomers as well who are still learning, but we spent a good bit of time this summer working on our system. I think that combination of experience and summer work has us ahead of where we were this time last year on that end of the court, and I think you see that in the way we're moving offensively and the shots we're getting. It helps as well to have a great group of players who are really versatile, who you can trust shooting the ball, passing the ball and driving the ball.”

“It's huge when we're able to force as many turnovers as we did today. We're not a big team and we play undersized most of the time, so for us to have a pretty distinct advantage in turnover margin (+9 on Thursday) is key to help offset any disadvantage we might have on the glass, although we did well in that category today too (even 31-31). We're starting to understand the overall defensive philosophy we want to instill as well. Our players had opportunities to make plays on the defensive end today, and they took advantage.”

Next Up

Valpo (4-3) will step away from competition for final exams week, meaning it will be 10 days until the Brown and Gold retake the court. The next appearance will come at the ARC on Sunday, Dec. 15 for a 1 p.m. tipoff against UIC. The game can be seen live on ESPN3.