VALPARAISO | Jessica Carr was already celebrating a made 3-pointer moments before Jessi Wiedemann caught the ball Saturday night.
It was that kind of game for the Valparaiso women’s basketball team as the Crusaders were two steps ahead of Oakland all night in an 84-70 victory at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
As Wiedemann caught the ball, Carr jumped several feet in the air and let out a primal scream as the ball fell through the bottom of the net. Wiedemann’s 3-pointer gave the Crusaders a 56-50 lead with 13:14 remaining, and they never looked back in their most impressive Horizon League win of the season.
“It’s such a good feeling when you can see everything playing out before it happens,” Carr said. “We were playing so well together as a team, and when Jessi is shooting like that, you know it’s going to go in.”
Carr scored a career-high 16 points as the Crusaders (4-21, 2-10) avenged their biggest conference loss of the season. Valparaiso fell 88-55 at Oakland in early January. Saturday’s win marked the turnaround that coach Tracey Dorow knew was coming for the last several weeks.
“Everybody played their part tonight,” Dorow said. “That’s something that needs to happen every night. We’re not deep enough for people not to show up.”
Sharon Karungi delivered another strong performance Saturday as the JUCO transfer had 22 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Karungi had seven offensive rebounds, and the Crusaders scored 50 points in the paint.
“I just knew that the team had my back,” Karungi said. “We focused on being calm. We walked in the locker room earlier, and we knew we had this.”
Wiedemann had 17 points and six rebounds, while Charae Richardson had 17 points, six rebounds and six assists despite taking a nasty shot to the head midway through the second half.
Richardson and Oakland’s Nola Anderson banged heads, and both players left the court to undergo evaluations on the sidelines. Both players returned to the game, and Richardson continued her strong output with three steals.
“Coach was playing it safe, but I was fine,” Richardson said. “It wasn’t too bad. I got a little whiplash.”
The Crusaders will travel to Detroit on Wednesday for a key game as Valparaiso is battling for position in the race for seeding in next month’s conference tournament. The Crusaders have a one-game lead over the Titans for eighth place and the right to host a conference tournament game.
“The Horizon League is very close, and we know that we can play with all the best teams in the league,” Wiedemann said. “We were very prepared for this game.”