The Valparaiso women’s basketball team played Green Bay close in four out of the six halves the two teams matched up this season.
Unfortunately for the Crusaders, the last half Wednesday night was one that got away from them as No. 1 Green Bay used a 14-0 run to open up a close game against No. 9 Valparaiso and earn a 72-55 victory in the Horizon League tournament quarterfinals.
Jessica Carr had a game-high 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists to lead the Crusaders, while Charae Richardson added 12 points in her final collegiate game.
“Green Bay was way more physical than we were,” Valparaiso coach Tracey Dorow said. “We couldn’t get going inside the paint. You need to be lighting it up from outside in order to open up the inside. We did a good job, not a great job.”
Carr knocked down three early 3-pointers, and the Crusaders jumped out to an 11-3 lead that had the regular-season champions on their heels. The Phoenix responded with a 15-3 run to take an 18-14 lead. Carr knocked down her fourth 3-pointer of the game to cut the deficit to one, but the Crusaders would never regain control of the contest.
“Jess brought a lot of confidence,” Dorow said. “We told her we needed her to start the game with back-to-back 3s. We’re excited about the future we have with her.”
Valparaiso trailed 33-26 at halftime and was able to cut the deficit to five before Green Bay rattled off a 14-0 run. The Phoenix got the lead as big as 25 points before the Crusaders clawed back in the final minutes of the game.
“They did a good job attacking us,” Dorow said. “They had 22 points in transition. I thought we did a good job against them in the halfcourt, but we couldn’t slow their transition.”
Liz Horton was limited to seven points and four rebounds, while Sharon Karungi was held to four points and six rebounds. Wednesday’s loss marked the final game for Horton, Richardson and Liz Hamlet.
“Liz Horton has come so far and really bought into everything we’ve done here,” Dorow said. “Liz, Charae, they’re taking it extremely hard right now. I’m so thankful Liz Hamlet was able to spend this year here. We’ll miss all three of them very much.”
The Crusaders (6-25) will get some added help next season as transfers AnneMarie Hamlet (Oakland) and Haylee Thompson (Utah State) join a talented recruiting class.
“These seniors put down the foundation,” Dorow said. “There are a lot of teams that are 6-25 that didn’t have as much fun as we did. We hate losing, but we stuck together, and I really feel like there is a lot we have to look forward to. We gained a lot of valuable experience.”