VALPARAISO | Gina Lange has fond memories of playing at the Athletics-Recreation Center over the last four years. Now the Valparaiso senior has a chance to make one more.
Lange scored 20 points on Senior Day as the Crusaders rallied to knock off Detroit 73-53 and earn a home game in this week’s Horizon League tournament.
Valparaiso hosts Illinois-Chicago on Monday night in the 8/9 game with the winner traveling to Green Bay on Wednesday.
“This was so awesome,” Lange said. “I don’t know if I can describe it in words.”
Lange and Tabitha Gerardot (14 points) attacked Detroit’s strong post players on offense and then combined to limit presumptive Horizon League Player of the Year Shareta Brown’s impact on the other end of the floor. Brown finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, but fouled out in 24 minutes.
“It’s always big to get one of the best players off the court,” Valparaiso coach Tracey Dorow said. “I think we have a pretty good idea of how to defend her.”
The Crusaders (10-19) held a 32-16 scoring advantage in the paint and out rebounded the Titans (16-12) by 15. Detroit came into the game as the top rebounding team in the conference. Valparaiso senior Laura Richards established a new career-high with 11 rebounds.
“We really focused on blocking out and making it hard for them to get the easy board,” Dorow said. “We want to be able to hang our hats on our rebounding.”
Valparaiso trailed 47-44 with 12:04 left in the game when Gina Lange started a 12-0 run with back-to-back baskets to give the Crusaders a lead they would never relinquish.
Jessi Wiedemann capped off the run with a driving layup and finished with a career-high 13 points in her finest game in Valparaiso uniform.
“I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable as the year has gone on,” Wiedemann said. “I was a lot more into the game today. I wanted to win for our seniors.”
The Crusaders played in the 8/9 game last year, beating Milwaukee on the road for the first Horizon League tournament win in school history. Saturday’s win gave Valparaiso 10 wins on the season, a mark the Crusaders reached last year with their win over the Panthers.
“If you can get into double digits on wins, that feels better automatically,” Gerardot said. “We need some stepping stones to continue getting better.”