The Saturday afternoon win against Indiana State secured the four game sweep for Valpo for the first time since the 2011-2012 season. The win was secured in the second quarter after Valpo held the Sycamores scoreless.
This landmark was a first for Valparaiso since the NCAA revamped the game clock format from 20 minute halves to 10 minute quarters back in 2015. Valpo won the game 61-45, improving to 5-6 in the MVC.
“It is huge. This league is so good this year, like you have to win the games that you have,” said Head Coach Mary Evans. “If you are in a game, you have to find a way to win that game because they are few and far to come by in this league. This league is so tough.”
Before the game began, senior guard Grace Hales was honored for being the 16th player in program history to reach the 1,000 point milestone against Drake on Feb. 31. After leading the team with 14 points in Saturday’s win, Hales currently sits 15th in the program's history at 1,049 career points.
“It’s awesome. I think that I have just been working really hard for four years and I love Valpo. We went through some coaching changes and went through some struggles, but I am so happy to be here and I love my teammates,’ Hales said. “It really shows how much confidence my teammates and my coaches have had in me in four years. It’s all because of them.”
Valpo started out from behind in the first quarter against Indiana State, but the team was able to cut the deficit to four at 18-14. However, in the second quarter, Valparaiso went on a 19-0 scoring run to recapture the lead and blank the Sycamores for the whole quarter.
“We really changed our mindset. Coach Evans really got on us about rebounding, that was definitely our biggest struggle,” Hales said.
According to Hales, the team came out better once they changed their mindset.
Sophomore guard Ilysse Pitts started the run with back-to-back contributions. The first was from a three pointer to cut the deficit following from a fast break layup to put them over by one. Redshirt junior forward Addison Stoller helped the effort with her own three pointer to extend the lead to 22-18.
After drawing the foul before the media timeout, Pitts extended the lead with a shot from the charity line. Four minutes later, Stoller hit another three pointer to extend the score to eight.
Junior forward Ella Ellenson stepped up against Indiana State, scoring 10 of Valpo’s 20 bench points. With a two and a half minutes left in the first half, Ellenson scored her first of two three pointers of the night. She made four of five shots from the field and played 20 minutes.
“She has had a huge weekend. I know this season has been frustrating for her, and her minutes have gone down with some of these kids [players] coming off of injuries,” Evans said. “We had a good talk last week, and we talked about things we needed her to do. I thought she came out here and she did everything we asked her to do, and she played two really good games.”
After Stoller’s pair of free throws, Valpo led the end of the first half at 31-18. The rest of the game was left in Valpo’s control to win. Stoller, from the game overall, continued to show her resilience and impact on the court. She scored 13 points, nine rebounds, and had five turnovers.
Valpo will be on the road again the next weekend to face off against Bradley on Friday Feb. 14 and Illinois State on Feb. 16.