VALPARAISO | Playing at the Athletics-Recreation Center for the first time in three weeks and for only the second time this season, the Valparaiso women’s basketball team struggled to get comfortable in their own gym.
The Crusaders went more than nine minutes without a field goal in the first half as Butler rattled off a 16-2 run and coasted to a 65-50 victory on Friday night despite a stubborn Valparaiso comeback attempt in the second half.
The Bulldogs scored 16 points off turnovers in the first half and corralled 14 steals.
“If we dig ourselves in that big of a hole, we’re playing for nothing,” Valparaiso coach Tracey Dorow said. “It’s not lost, but in all honesty, we need to play hard from the beginning. Why don’t we came out and give that kind of effort from the start and not take possessions for granted.”
The Crusaders (2-8) cleaned up their approach in the second half and committed just five turnovers after the break, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the hot-shooting Bulldogs. Butler shot 48.3 percent in the first half and finished the night a shade under 45 percent from the floor.
“Teams that are winning championships are shooting 45 percent and we go out there and they get 48 percent,” Dorow said. “We’re not going to be able to win any games giving up 48 percent.”
Sharon Karungi led the Crusaders in scoring for the fourth time in the last five games with 12 points. The JUCO transfer added eight rebounds but struggled to get into an offensive rhythm in the first half.
“I think we were a little slow and they took advantage of it,” Karungi said. “We worked hard in the second half. We talked about communication and being in the right place at the right time.”
Liz Horton scored eight of her 10 points in the second half as the Crusaders trimmed a 20-point deficit down to nine points. The senior has scored in double figures in each of her last four games.
“When we get on a run and we’re meshing, everything is good,” Horton said. “Unfortunately, we got in a rut and we were making some silly turnovers.”
Taylor Schippers scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Bulldogs (4-5). It was her first trip back to the ARC since playing in the Lutheran Basketball Association of American national tournament which is held in Valparaiso every March. The Houston native played at the ARC in back-to-back years beginning in 2006.
“This brought back so many memories for me,” Schippers said. “I can remember playing on the different courts all over the building. This was such a cool experience for me.”