Much like the last Hoops in the Heartland tournament, Valparaiso was stopped again in the quarterfinals.
In this season’s run, Valpo defeated Evansville in the first round 65-52, but lost to Drake 70-61 in the second round.
However, Valpo ended the season by ranking 113th nationally according to the NCAA’s Evaluation.
This was the highest ranking of the program since the team was ranked 101st during the 2003-2004 season with the Ranked Percentage Index.
Valpo has not advanced past the quarterfinal round since joining the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). All of their quarterfinal losses have been against the Bulldogs.
The quarterfinal round against Drake was the roadblock Valpo was not able to get past.
Valpo starters still shined even amongst the defeat. The Brown and Gold dropped 21 points during the first quarter alone.
“I thought we did a nice job getting inside of their zone,” said Head Coach Mary Evans. “I thought they started tonight pretty stretched out and we were attacking in nature and got into their zone.”
After that quarter, Drake was able to adjust and stop Valpo from scoring.
Valpo’s chances to win fell short with five minutes left in the game. Drake’s 9-0 scoring run sealed Valpo’s fate both for the tournament and for the season.
Upon being asked about the offensive game against the Bulldogs, Evans commented that the effort given by her players in past games was the same against Drake.
“I never question how my team plays,” Evans said. “They give everything they have for this team, for each other. I thought they did the same thing tonight.”
Despite the quarterfinal loss, Evans was proud of how her players stuck together as a unit during the pandemic season.
“I’m really proud of them for how hard they played this year,” Evans said. “I’m really proud of how they stuck together and stayed together and really worked well together.”
In both games, Valpo players stepped up in key offensive moments.
During the Evansville game, the offensive game belonged to fourth year junior guard Carie Weinman. She totaled a new-career high of 28 points against the Purple Aces and stole six times.
Evans commented after the first game that she believed her guard was proficient at making her shots.
"I thought she was really aggressive tonight,” Evans said. “She was one of our few players I thought in that first quarter that really attacked the rim, as well as shooting the three."
Junior guard Shay Frederick and fifth-year senior forward Caitlin Morrison followed behind on the offensive effort, both combining for 30 points.