VALPARAISO | Milwaukee hit 3-pointers early and often Thursday night as the last-place Panthers won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Milwaukee connected on 12 3-pointers, including seven straight in the first half, as the Panthers knocked off Valparaiso 75-71 at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Valparaiso came up short with a furious rally in the second half, cutting a 19-point deficit to two points with seven seconds left, but the Crusaders couldn’t get any closer.
“We weren’t ready to defend early,” Valparaiso coach Tracey Dorow said. “They came out, and they were the aggressors. They played like they were on a mission.”
Tabitha Gerardot led the Crusaders (9-15, 4-7) with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Laura Richards added 11 points and nine rebounds. Shaquira Scott added 17 points and six rebounds.
Richards knocked down a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left to cut the deficit to 73-71, but Angela Rodriguez hit both free throws in the waning seconds to hold off the Crusaders.
“I thought we did a good job of being much more active in the second half,” Dorow said. “We did a good job pressing. We fouled when we needed to foul. We did exactly what we wanted to do to get back in the game.”
Milwaukee hit eight 3-pointers in the first half and added four more after the break as the Panthers (7-16, 3-8) hit their most 3-pointers in Horizon League play this season. Emily Decorah knocked down five 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 15 points, while Rodriguez added 15 points and nine assists.
“They were getting some open looks, and we had some trouble getting back in transition,” Richards said. “We definitely did better in the second half.”
The game was a stark contrast to Valparaiso’s 84-72 win at the Klotsche Center earlier this season. Gerardot scored a career-high 33 points in that contest and was held to nearly half that mark Thursday.
“Every minute was a struggle on offense,” Gerardot said. “They were playing physical and denying everything on top.”
Charae Richardson missed all eight of her shots in the first half and then left the court after taking a vicious blow to the head. Richardson didn’t return to action in the second half.