Beacons give it away at the ARC
WBB: Valpo's fourth quarter miscues turn into a 15-0 run for the Ramblers in key Valley loss
VALPARAISO - Valparaiso kept giving the ball away, and with it, a golden opportunity.
The Beacons had five turnovers in just over three minutes of action in the fourth quarter during Friday night’s all-important Missouri Valley Conference tilt against Loyola. The Ramblers utilized those turnovers to go on a 15-0 run which helped solidify a 66-52 win at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Trailing 51-47 entering the fourth quarter, the Beacons got stops on Loyola’s first three possessions, but came up empty on the other end. The Ramblers split a pair of free throws and Carie Weinman scored for Valpo to cut the deficit to three points. Then the wheels fell off for the Beacons.
Shay Frederick had the ball ripped out of her hands by Loyola’s Maya Chandler and it led to a fast break layup on the other end. Valpo came back on the next possession with a shot clock turnover and Loyola once again capitalized. Chandler stole the ball from Frederick moments later and again scored on a fast break layup.
The Beacons got a shot off on the following possession, but it was a missed 3-pointer from Olivia Brown and Loyola scored on the other end to push what was once a close game up to an 11-point lead. The Ramblers scored another six points over the next four minutes as Valpo continued to miss shots from the perimeter. Frederick finally knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:17 remaining to end the run as well as the scoring for the game.
“We scored five points in the fourth quarter,” Valparaiso coach Mary Evans said. “We weren’t very crisp. I don’t think we did a good job working together to create space.
“We had a run of turnovers and all of sudden we’re down 11 points,” Evans added. “Then they start pressing and we take some 3s that probably weren’t great looks - they weren’t inside-out 3s. If those shots go down, then everyone is happy on a lark, but they don’t go down and that’s the difference. When you shoot it as much as we do and you give your players the freedom that I do, we have nights where we can sit there and say coulda, woulda, shoulda. Again, if those 3s go down, everyone in the building is happy because we’ve taken the lead and we’re beating Loyola again.”
The Ramblers (17-10, 9-7) pounded the ball in the paint in the first half and crashed the offensive glass to the tune of eight second chance points. Loyola led 31-22 at the break and pushed the advantage to 15 early in the third quarter. Valpo’s offense woke up after halftime, scoring more points in the third quarter (23) than it did in the first half (22). Loyola’s offense was already awake and the Ramblers scored on their first nine possessions of the third quarter.
The Beacons (10-17, 8-8) began to chip away at the deficit as Grace White knocked down a 3-pointer and Frederick scored five of Valpo’s next six points. By the time Weinman scored on the final possession of the third quarter, Valparaiso had gotten within four points.
“Offensively and defensively we were much better in the third quarter than we were in the first half,” Evans said. “The whole second half we did a better job of keeping them off the offensive glass. They didn’t score any second chance points in the second half. We were much more aggressive pushing the basketball. We got better looks, better shots at the rim and easier 3s.”
The offense was humming until it couldn’t get out of its own way. The turnovers became contagious and Loyola took advantage of nearly every miscue. Frederick had 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but she also had four turnovers, including three in the fourth quarter.
“She’ll correct it,” Evans said. “I’ll talk to her a little bit on Monday about the decisions that she made late, but they were aggressive decisions. I don’t think they were super passive decisions. She was trying her best to get into the paint and create for her teammates. Give a lot of credit to Loyola. They are a very good defensive team. They were physical and they fly around.”
Valparaiso came into the night needing a win to clinch a bye in next month’s conference tournament. A win over the Ramblers would’ve helped even more as it would’ve broken a tie between the two teams for fifth place in the Valley with two games remaining.
Coupled with Drake’s upset win over Illinois State, Friday’s loss now puts the Beacons in a tough position as they close out the regular season against the top two teams in the league (Southern Illinois, Missouri State). The Bulldogs have three games remaining, but they are against the bottom three teams in the league (Indiana State, Evansville, Bradley). Valparaiso holds the tiebreaker over Drake by virtue of a regular season sweep. Any Valpo win or Drake loss in the final week of the regular season would clinch a bye for the Beacons, but it is likely that Valparaiso will be the underdog in its two remaining games and the Bulldogs will be favored in all three of theirs.
Well, we know that Mary Evans isn’t Juwan Howard. The Ramblers were leading 66-52 with 19.1 seconds left in the game when Loyola coach Kate Achter called a timeout. It was a strange timeout as Evans had essentially called off the dogs on the previous possession. The Ramblers got the ball inbounds without any pressure and the clock ran out. Everyone remained civil after the game.
Shay Frederick had seven assists on Friday and now has 134 on the year, tying Hannah Schaub (2016-17) for seventh-most in a single season. Frederick’s 11 points also moved her up to eighth place in program history with 1,230 points, passing 1991 graduate Stephanie Greer (1,224 points).
In addition to the above scenarios, there is a highly unlikely scenario in which Indiana State sweeps Missouri State, Northern Iowa and Drake. If that happens, Valparaiso loses its two games, and Drake wins its other two games, then all three teams would finish 8-10 and the Bulldogs would get the bye because of a the higher NET ranking. Again, it’s a highly unlikely scenario.
Friday night represented my final opportunity to see the Valparaiso women’s basketball team in person this year. I’ll be in St. Louis next week for their final two home games and then I’ll be on vacation during the conference tournament. Mind you, a vacation that was booked well before The Victory Bell was even a thought in my brain. There will be time for farewells later, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Caitlin Morrison here. The injuries she’s battled over the years and the obstacles she’s endured during her time at Valpo, it’s been enjoyable to watch her compete for the last 72 years or however long she’s been in college.
It also means that tonight was my final game at the ARC this year. It’s my home away from home and it is a building where I feel alive. Some nights were better than others during the 2021-22 season, but the one that sits at the top was the night the Valparaiso volleyball team knocked off UCONN in the semifinals on the NIVC. I’ll never forget that night. In second would be the night the men’s basketball team beat Indiana State in double overtime and I realized that I didn’t have to worry about deadlines anymore. God bless The Victory Bell.
I’ve got a lot of content planned for the next week as I’ll shift into previewing Arch Madness. I hope you’ll subscribe and meet me in St. Louis.