VALPARAISO | Losing wasn’t an option for Charae Richardson in her final regular-season game at the Athletics-Recreation Center on Wednesday.
The Valparaiso senior scored a career-high 24 points as the Crusaders blew open a close game in the second half with a 94-80 victory.
The Crusaders turned a one-point halftime lead into a blowout by opening the second half on a 19-2 run. Richardson had eight points in the run.
“It’s good that all of our hard work is finally paying off,” Richardson said. “The beginning (of the season) wasn’t as good as we would’ve hoped, but I appreciate that we’ve stayed fighting hard and my teammates have kept battling.”
Valparaiso dominated the paint against Milwaukee, scoring 42 points, with Sharon Karungi leading the way with 23 points and eight rebounds. The JUCO transfer was limited to just four points in 12 minutes in an 85-80 loss at Milwaukee earlier this eason.
“I was psyched up for it,” Karungi said. “Just learning from my mistakes of last time. The coaches told us to keep our feet moving in the post and go after the basket.”
The Panthers (8-20, 4-11) entered the game shorthanded with five players unavailable due to a combination of injuries, academics and suspensions. Milwaukee was assessed three technical fouls during the game, two of which came during the deciding moments of the second half.
Liz Horton scored 15 points and added a career-high eight rebounds in her final regular-season game at the ARC.
The win keeps the Crusaders alive to secure a home game in next week’s Horizon League tournament. Valparaiso needs to beat Wright State in the regular season finale on Saturday afternoon and needs Detroit to drop their final two games of the season.
“We really just tried to take it one game at a time,” Horton said. “We needed to focus on getting this win and now we move to Wright State. If we end up having to go to Detroit, then we’ll do that and be ready for it.”