Stars shine for Valparaiso in Valley win
WBB: Frederick, White and Weinman lead Beacons to season-high 86 points
VALPARAISO - Shay Frederick had a decision to make.
With Valparaiso clinging to a one-point lead late in the fourth quarter on Thursday night, the senior didn’t have much room for error. Frederick had just come up with a steal and was driving toward the basket into a sea of Bradley defenders. She could keep going and try to draw contact, or she could trust the flash she saw out of the corner of her eye was a friendly face.
Frederick trusted her instincts, threaded the ball through three Bradley defenders and found a cutting Carie Weinman for an easy layup. There were still two minutes left in the game, but that play proved to be the dagger in Valparaiso’s 86-84 win over the Braves at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
“I got the steal and one of their girls was ahead of me,” Frederick said. “I thought that maybe I could outrun her. I tried to cut the floor and get to the middle so she’d lose her footing, then I saw Carie out of the corner of my eye. I slowed up a little bit and there was a little gap.”
“It was perfect,” Weinman said, cutting off Frederick in the process. “I wasn’t sure if she was going to throw it or not. I was just sprinting as hard as I could down the floor. My person was trailing and Shay sliced the ball in the perfect lead pass. It was awesome.”
Fredrick’s assist on the play gave her a new career high with 11 assists. It also marked her first career double double as she scored 17 points. Weinman’s basket capped off a stretch where she scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and 17 of her 19 points in the second half. The final member of Valparaiso’s Big Three, Grace White, played a dominant game with 20 points on just nine shot attempts.
“Fantastic,” Valparaiso coach Mary Evans said of her three leading scorers. “There’s no other words. Sometimes you get to be involved in games where players just are special and tonight they were special. Shay was tremendous. She ran the team really well; looked for her shots and looked for her teammates. Grace was extremely efficient with her shooting. Carie was just amazing. Tremendous games from all of them and I’m excited to see that production. If the team wants to be as special as we think we can be, those three have got to produce like that and then the other ones have got to play their role.”
While the Big Three scored 48 of Valpo’s last 55 points, it was unheralded junior Cara VanKempen that opened up the game for her teammates. VanKempen came into Thursday’s game having started every Valley contest, but she’s averaged just 1.2 points in those 11 games and hadn’t scored in the last four games. She scored Valpo’s first basket of the night and then buried a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter to help erase a double-digit Bradley lead.
“It seemed like (Bradley’s) game plan was to shrink off of her and not guard her,” Evans said. “When she started making those shots, that pulled people out and freed up some of those drives late in the game. Cara is a really talented player; she overthinks things like 95 percent of America does and she just has to work through that component. We have a lot of hard workers on our team and she is one of the hardest.”
Frederick assisted VanKempen on the first 3-pointer and has been imploring her teammate to shoot more this season.
“Cara is a great shooter and she should always be confident that she can hit those shots,” Frederick said. “It’s so big for us when she hits those because it really spreads the floor.”
Thursday’s win was especially sweet as Valparaiso was coming off a crushing loss last Sunday to Northern Iowa. The Beacons bounced back from scoring a conference-low 38 points to scoring a season-high 86 points.
“We really needed it coming off of that loss,” Weinman said. “We’re the seniority here along with Caitlin (Morrison). We needed to set the tone and step up. We don’t always have to be the leading scorers, but the underclassmen look up to us. If we can set the tone, we can get the whole team to buy in and it’s huge.”
Frederick’s 11 assists moved her into second place on Valparaiso’s career list. She moved past Katie Boone. Frederick sits 12th in career scoring at Valparaiso and is 22 points shy of Aimee Forsman.
According to Aaron Leavitt, Valparaiso’s assistant director of athletics for media relations, Frederick became just the third Division I player in the country this season with a stat line of at least 17 points, six rebounds, 11 assists and no turnovers.
Valparaiso sophomore Ava Interrante made just her fourth appearance of the season when she took the floor late in the second quarter. Interrante pulled down an offensive rebound on her first possession on the court. Interrante’s older sister, Aannah, is a sister on Bradley’s roster.
Thursday’s game marked just the fourth time this season that White, Frederick and Weinman have all scored in double figures. The Beacons are 3-1 in those contests.
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(Photo provided by Valparaiso Athletics)