Under the new reality of playing back-to-back games, Valpo has had to fight to win back-to-back consistently. Valpo defeated Bradley during the first game 71-66, but dropped the second game 61-51.
This has not been the first time that Valpo has won the first game and lost the second game of a series. The women’s team did this earlier in the first half of conference season against the University of Northern Iowa.
“We just need to get used to playing back-to-back games, that is how the whole season is going to be,” fifth year senior forward Caitlin Morrison said.
In this new switch of venue, head coach Mary Evans believes that the mental game is the most critical factor two win back-to-back.
“It really comes down to mental toughness,” said Evans.
While the program did split another conference series, there were small victories during the series.
During the first game against the Braves, Valpo played a historic perimeter game. The team shot 17 three-pointers, for the third time in program history.
Not only did this team tie the school record for 17 three-pointers, but it was the first time in the program's history that it happened during conference play.
“We just moved the ball really well,” said Morrison. “Once we saw a couple going in, I think that everyone was confident in their shot.”
Junior guard Shay Frederick led the charge on the perimeter. She shot five three-pointers and led the team with 17 points.
Fourth year junior guard Carie Weinman helped with the effort, scoring15 points with five rebounds.
Freshman guard Lauren Gunn had a career best night, coming off the bench with 10 points and grabbing two steals.
During the second game, the strategy of shooting the perimeter had to change. Many of Valpo’s three-pointers did not fall through, so the team switched up the strategy to score more in the paint.
“Tonight we tried to score more in the paint since not a lot of our three’s were falling,” said Morrison.
Many of Valpo’s starters were struggling to score points. According to Evans, Bradley displayed a bit more aggressiveness during game two.
“I think Bradley is a very talented team,” Evans said. “We saw a little bit more physicality than we saw last night.”
Valpo’s bench helped give a small push for much of what the starters had to deal with. Freshman guards Maya Dunson and Leah Earnest combined for 13 of 15 bench points. Earnest also grabbed five rebounds and made five of her seven attempts from the free throw line.
“All of them are super aggressive,” said Morrison. “They bring a lot of energy on their strong drives and defense and rebounds. They bring a lot of energy off the bench, they are doing a great job.”
In eight of their last nine games, Valpo has played against top-100 NET teams. As Valpo wraps up the first half of conference play, they will only have to deal against two games that have a top-100 opponent.
Valpo will go on the road to Terre Haute to play against Indiana State on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14. Both games will tip-off at 1 p.m.