VALPARAISO | Needing a stop for a chance to cut the game down to one possession, the Valparaiso women’s basketball team watched as South Dakota outhustled the Crusaders yet again on Tuesday afternoon.
Tia Hemiller missed a 3-pointer that would have given Valparaiso the ball down 68-64 late in the second half, but the Crusaders failed to corral the rebound and Hemiller flipped the ball back to Polly Harrington for an easy layup.
Harrington’s basket started a 13-2 run that allowed the Coyotes to pull away for an 81-70 victory on Tuesday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
“That (type of play) happened more than just that time,” Valparaiso coach Tracey Dorow said. “They outhustled us and made the big plays when they needed to. We didn’t. In the first half we only had one steal in 20 minutes of basketball. We’re not doing the little things that we need to do in order to win.”
Jessi Wiedemann led the Crusaders with a career-high 17 points and seven rebounds, but Valparaiso got little production from Sharon Karungi. The JUCO transfer was benched the first half for disciplinary reasons and failed to score for just the second time in her Valparaiso career.
“There comes a time when the team is bigger than any one individual,” Dorow said. “The team rallied around Sharon and gave me the OK to play her in the second half. I’m not sure that we were all on the same page. We all need to make sacrifices.”
Jessica Carr returned to the starting lineup for the first time after making her return from an auto accident on Sunday. The junior point guard had 12 points, four assists and two steals in 26 minutes.
“I’ve very excited to have Jess back,” Wiedemann said. “I love playing with her. She’s always aggressive and very feisty.”
The loss sent Valparaiso’s record to 2-10 and marks the fastest the Crusaders have reached 10 losses since they finished 2-10 in 1976-77. Valparaiso has one non-conference game remaining – Saturday at Tulsa – before Horizon League play begins next Thursday.
“We’re not on the same page,” Dorow said. “We get a group together that’s on the same page and then someone is not there. We’re going to spend a lot of time together off-the-court figuring this out because obviously we’re just not there. The little things are starting to show.”
Abby Dean finished with 15 points for the Crusaders while Charae Richardson added 13 points and three rebounds. Raeshael Contreras scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Coyotes (8-6).