Valparaiso Claims Victory Over UWM In Defensive Battle
March 5, 2012
MILWAUKEE - Ashley Timmerman scored 20 points and the Valparaiso University women's basketball team used a strong defensive effort to claim a 47-39 victory over the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Monday night in a first round Horizon League Tournament contest at the Klotsche Center.
The Crusaders (10-20) held off a pair of late charges by the Panthers (9-21), who refused to go quietly.
"Valparaiso came in here and had a lot of energy and I felt like they set the tone in the first half," Milwaukee head coach Sandy Botham said. "We were never able to get things going. We had a lot of good looks, but we just didn't shoot the ball very well. I thought we had better energy in the second half, but they hit big shots."
Sophomore Courtney Lindfors led Milwaukee with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, with junior Sami Tucker adding nine points and six rebounds. Freshman Ashley Green chipped in with seven points and seven rebounds, while Valpo's Ashley Varner also had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
"Even though we had beaten them twice, that was not the same Valparaiso team," Botham said. "They were coming off a big win against Wright State and they are a little more senior-heavy. That was just a totally different team that we knew we would see."
The Crusaders used an impressive first half on defense to run out to a 24-13 advantage, but the Panthers immediately made a dent in the deficit, using a 9-4 spurt to make it 28-22 on junior Sammy Theut's three-pointer at the 15:37 mark.
It was Valpo's night, however, responding each and every time Milwaukee made a run. They pushed the lead back to 11 at 33-22, but there the Panthers were again, scoring six points in a row to trim it back to 33-28.
"They are hard workers and they never stop," Lindfors said. "No matter what, make or miss, they are going to fight for everything. We had to stop their momentum and we did sometimes but it wasn't good enough."
UWM made its final push with about two minutes to play. Two free throws by Zimmerman extended the lead to 40-31, but a three by Tucker and a layup by sophomore Angela Rodriguez quickly closed the gap and made it a four-point game at 40-36 with 53 seconds to go.
Free throws sealed the deal. Despite another three by Rodriguez, the Crusaders made seven of eight from the charity stripe to close out the victory and claim their first-ever tournament win since joining the Horizon League in the 2007-2008 season.
Not much went Milwaukee's way in the first half. After a 4-4 start to the game, Valpo used a 10-2 run to start pulling away and scored 20 of the final 29 points before intermission to lead, 24-13, at the horn.
A defensive battle at the start, Tucker hit a jumper at the 13:28 mark to tie the game at 4-4.
Gina Lange and Tabitha Gerardot combined to give Valpo the spark it needed, with the pair combining for all 10 of the team's points in the 10-2 spurt. Gerardot's three-pointer at the 8:37 mark made it 14-6. The lead shrunk to six at one point, but Timmerman's layup with 2:03 to play made it 11 and it stayed that way at intermission.
The Panthers were ice-cold from the floor in the first half, making just five of 26 field goal attempts. Ten turnovers also hurt the cause, with Valpo turning those miscues into an 11-0 edge in that category.
With the win, the Crusaders advance to the quarterfinals and will face top-seeded Green Bay at the Kress Center Wednesday. For the Panthers, and lone senior Alex Klawitter, the 2011-12 season comes to a close.
"We were in so many games and lost a lot of close ones and some of that is inexperience," Botham said. "Failure is an opportunity to get better. We proved that we could play with anybody. Now we just have to be more consistent - we lose one senior and have everybody coming back. We just talked about this loss being motivation in the offseason."