VALPARAISO | It took only 20 minutes Monday night to realize that the Valparaiso University women’s basketball team is playing a different style from last season.
The Crusaders used a breakneck pace to score 44 first-half points on their way to a 98-49 blowout over Holy Cross in Valparaiso’s only exhibition contest of the year.
The 44 first-half points were more than the Crusaders scored in eight regular season games last year.
“Ideally we’d like to get out and run, but we have to be smart with it,” Valparaiso coach Tracey Dorow said. “We’re going to try and push the ball and attack the basket early. You should see that all year long.”
Ieva Jansone led four players in double figures with 22 points, while Shaquira Scott returned from a knee injury that cost her the majority of her freshman year to add 13 points and eight rebounds.
“It’s just the best feeling to get out and go,” Scott said. “It felt great to be able to get back out there with my teammates.”
Valparaiso played relatively slow out of the gate before going on a 17-2 scoring run that blew open the game. Once the Crusaders got the lead, they began an offensive attack that only slowed down for timeouts and free throw attempts.
Jansone connected on her first three shots and played with a newfound confidence after a slow start to last season. The Latvian native had to sit out the first 11 games of her first year at Valparaiso and never got into a rhythm with the rest of her teammates. Jansone averaged just 1.7 points in 19 games last season.
“Coach did a good job of working us in the preseason,” Jansone said. “We ran a lot, and now everyone is healthy. It’s good to have everyone back out there.”
Monday was a homecoming of sorts for three members of the Holy Cross program. Sophomore Maggie Gondeck (Michigan City) started and had four points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes, while Shelbi Westerhouse (Morgan Township) missed the only shot she attempted in six minutes of action. Holy Cross coach Aimee (Litka) Niespodziany returned to the Athletics-Recreation Center after for playing the Crusaders from 2005-09. Niespodziany was a senior when Valparaiso knocked off Purdue at the ARC in 2008.
“Valpo is a place that is near and dear to my heart,” Niespodziany said. “I hope they have a great season. Tonight brought back a lot of good memories.”
The Crusaders scored 46 points in the paint as Tabitha Gerardot had 19 points and eight rebounds, while Charae Richardson had 10 points. Lexi Miller came off the bench to score six points and add six assists.