VALPARAISO | Tracey Dorow sure knows how to make a good first impression.
The first-year Valparaiso women’s basketball coach beamed on Friday night as the Crusaders knocked off Indiana for just the second time in school history 64-52 in the season-opener for both schools.
The Crusaders jumped out to a 6-0 lead and led from start to finish as Shaquira Scott led three players in double figures with 17 points.
“I’m very proud of these young ladies,” Dorow said. “They just battled the entire time. We had 17 turnovers in the first half, but we refocused at the half and we did a really nice job.”
While thrilled with the victory, Dorow was hardly content after the game, saying perfection was the furthest thing from her mind. Much of the source of her frustration came from Valparaiso’s 24 turnovers.
Despite the miscues, the Crusaders never let Indiana take control of the game and Dorow credited her senior leaders after the game.
“I think it came down to their body language,” Dorow said. “They never got down. If we turned the ball over Laura (Richards) or Gina (Lange) would run over and pat someone on the back.”
Scott drove and twirled her way through the Indiana defense, showing no ill effects of a devastating ACL injury suffered at Ball State last season. Scott had a career-high 18 points in the season opener last year against SIU-Edwardsville and looked impressive again on Friday.
“Coach says to get it and go and that’s so much fun,” Scott said. “I’m very confident with my knee. I trust my trainer and I know that she wouldn’t let me play if it wasn’t good.”
The Crusaders focused on rebounding in practice leading up to the game and it paid off on Friday. Despite facing an Indiana front line that all stood six-foot or taller, including 6-foot-6 Quaneisha McCurty, the Crusaders had a 41-29 advantage on the boards.
“We have scout players and all of them are taller than us,” Lange said. “We were well-prepared.”
Lange and Richards barely left the court last season as the Crusaders limped to a 10-21 finish and didn’t earn their first win Division I win of the year until December. Richards played 39 minutes again on Friday, but she was happy to add to a now six-game winning streak against teams from Indiana.
“I never really wanted to play for Indiana, but I’m proud that we’ve done well against Indiana teams,” Richards said. “I think this is really going to be a springboard for us.”
Valparaiso's only other win against IU was a 64-60 victory on Dec. 7, 1999.