Women’s basketball fails to come out on top against Broncos

Playing their fourth game out of five games in a row on the road, Valparaiso University’s Women’s Basketball traveled to Kalamazoo on Nov. 29 to take on Western Michigan. 

It was an electric first quarter for both teams, who exchanged leads throughout the quarter. A hot 50% first quarter from three-point range allowed for Valpo to win the first quarter by four. However, a strong start was not enough for the Beacons in their loss to the Broncos 69-54.

Redshirt senior guard Carie Weinman was perfect on 3-pointers until midway through the second quarter, going three for three before a miss. However, a Western Michigan 14-0 scoring run would slow Valpo’s early momentum, giving the Broncos a 40-28 lead at halftime.

The third quarter would see fifth-year senior Grace White step up for the Beacons. Matching a career-best four three-pointers, White scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

“She’s just more physical,” Head Coach Mary Evans said, “She led us in rebounds last year but I think she’s really rebounding the ball strongly this year as well for us.”

Trailing by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter, Evans looked to get players off the bench to get more experience against a tough opponent. 

Valpo cut into the lead to come within 13 points of the Broncos.

“I thought [these players] really sat down and played defense,” Evans said, mentioning the defense of sophomore guards Ava Interrante and Lauren Gunn in particular. “[Defense] has to be the foundation of our program” 

Another strong performance for Valpo came from senior guard Shay Frederick. Frederick tallied nine assists on the night, marking her 40th career game with five or more assists.

“[Frederick] can really create stuff for us,” Evans said. “As a coach, it’s very comforting knowing that the player is going to make the right decision. She’s going to get her teammates’ shots.” 

Valpo would finish the game shooting a season-best 37.9% from three-point range. Their success from beyond the arc was one of Head Coach Mary Evans’ positive takeaways from the game.

“It was probably the game that we shot the three the best this year so I was encouraged by that,” Evans said.

Playing off the boards allowed the Beacons to out-rebound their opponent for the first time this season. Valpo out-grabbed Western Michigan 31 to 27, which was a focus in practice for the team, according to Evans.  

“Rebounding is something we’ve really been focusing on in practice. It’s nice to see some dividends pay off. [Rebounding work] is something my staff and I have committed to doing on a daily basis,” Evans said.

The biggest struggle for Valpo in this matchup was ball security. The team tallied their season-worst turnover number at 22 against the Broncos.  

“We didn’t do a great job of driving into space. We just had some careless turnovers,” Evans said. “A lot of it was just us shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Still searching for their first win, the Beacons will look to bounce back after the loss to Western Michigan.

Valpo will head to Bowling Green next week to take on the Falcons in their next matchup.

“We’ve got to focus on getting stops and really executing offensively. This is a very talented team and we’re trying to integrate some new faces,” Evans said. “We’ve got to figure out how to get this new group of individuals playing better than the sum of their parts.”

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