VALPARAISO - Valparaiso went on two lengthy runs to overcome a 15-point deficit and defeated the Youngstown State women's basketball team 67-59 on Saturday afternoon in the Horizon League opener for both schools.
The Penguins led 32-17 and had held Valpo junior forward Tabitha Gerardot to three points through 16 minutes. The teams traded buckets in the next minute, and the Crusaders proceeded to score the final 12 points of the first half and 15 straight overall. Valpo also scored 11 consecutive points in the second half when YSU led 48-43, with Gerardot scoring the first nine during that run. YSU did not lead again.
Gerardot finished with 26 points, 23 of which came in the final 26 minutes, and a game-high 17 rebounds. She helped the Crusaders out-rebound the Penguins 46-22.
Brandi Brown led YSU with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Shar'Rae Davis scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half. She added six assists and had just one turnover in her first Horizon League contest. Liz Hornberger scored 12 points, and Heidi Schlegel added 10. Brown moved into third place on YSU's career scoring list with her 16 points, passing Danielle Carson.
Gerardot was 9-of-13 from the field, and fellow starting post Gina Lange was 7-of-9. They combined for 41 points and 23 rebounds for Valpo, which improved to 6-8. YSU dropped to 10-4 and saw its three-game winning streak stopped.
Valparaiso shot 52.3 percent and outscored YSU by 15 at the free-throw line. That helped offset YSU's plus-13 mark in turnovers. YSU shot 33 percent and was 11-for-37 from 3-point range after making three of its first four attempts from distance. The Penguins also made three of their last five attempts, but they were 5-for-28 in between.
Hornberger scored nine of YSU's first 11 points on three 3-pointers, her third of which started a nine-point run for the Penguins that gave them a 17-8 lead with 12:18 left. Schlegel then put the Penguins up 21-8 with 10:57 left as she went on a six-point run by herself.
The Penguins held Valpo to one field goal in nearly a seven-minute stretch, but they started to slow down offensively when the Crusaders switched to zone with under 10 minutes left in the period. Still, the Penguins took their largest lead at 32-17 when Monica Touvelle hit a trey in the corner with 5:49 left in the half.
The teams traded buckets in the next minute before the Crusaders started their 12-0 run. Gerardot had six points during the stretch and scored eight of her 11 first-half points in the final 5:32 of the period.
YSU had just one turnover on an offensive foul in the first half while forcing Valparaiso into 10. That helped the Penguins to a 16-0 edge in points off turnovers in the period and a 26-4 advantage in the game.
The Crusaders extended their 12-0 run that ended the first half to 21-2 at the 15:22 mark of the second half to go up 40-36. Davis then scored YSU's next five points and 10 points during a 12-3 run that put the Penguins ahead 48-43 with 9:57 left. The Penguins didn't score for more than five minutes, and a 3-pointer by Gerardot started an 11-0 run for the Crusaders.
A Hornberger triple ended YSU's drought at the 4:38 mark as the Penguins went on to make four straight field goals, but Valpo never surrendered the lead. Brown hit two triples that both cut the margin to one, and Schlegel hit a bucket underneath with 2:39 left that made the score 60-59. That accounted for YSU's final points, and Valpo scored its final five points from the free-throw line.
Youngstown State will play its first home Horizon League contest on Thursday against Milwaukee. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m.