Valparaiso University women’s basketball sophomore Maya Meredith (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral) made her first career start one that won’t soon be forgotten on Friday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center. With teammate Nicole Koneiczny sidelined by an illness, Meredith stepped in as the starting point guard for Valpo’s 99-59 win over IU Northwest. Meredith dished out 16 assists, shattering a single-game program record of 14 that had stood since 1992.
How It Happened
IU Northwest (7-7) found itself within three at 10-7 with 5:14 to go in the first quarter, but the Crusaders embarked on a 10-0 run to boost the edge to 20-7 with 2:10 left in the first. Valpo’s early 13-point lead was built on the shoulders of Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain), who had already knocked down three 3s.
By the time the first quarter ended, Hamlet was up to 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting and Valpo held a 24-12 edge.
The Crusaders (5-4) went on to score the first 12 points of the second quarter – four by Bryce Blood (Toledo, Ohio / Whitmer) – to extend the lead to 24. Marlee Profitt (Medina, Ohio / Highland) made a layup at the 7:05 mark to make it 36-12, Valpo’s largest lead of the game at that junction.
The RedHawks took a bite out of the deficit and got as close as 14, but Valpo led comfortably as the two teams went into the locker room, up 50-31 at the half. Just two games removed from a 19-point first half at Purdue, Hamlet had 23 before the break and had only missed one shot.
The Crusaders kept their offensive output consistent in the third, posting another 25-point quarter to take a 75-49 lead to the fourth. After dishing out six assists in the first half, Meredith doubled that total with six more in the third.
The record-setting assist came with 58 seconds to play as Meredith found Ella Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis. / Rice Lake) for a 3-pointer. Meredith had an encore on the next possession, setting up a 3 by Taylor Richards (Doylestown, Ohio / Chippewa) for assist No. 16. The final two assists of the night were on made 3s by a pair of freshmen who notched the first 3-point baskets of their collegiate careers on those shots.
Inside the Game
What makes Meredith’s 16 assists even more impressive is that she did it without making any turnovers. Valpo’s previous record-holder was Shari Toelke, who had 14 against Marquette on Jan. 15, 1992.
Meredith became just the 10th player in the history of the Missouri Valley Conference to reach 16 assists in a game, a mark that is tied for sixth in conference history.
Meredith’s previous career high was five and her season high was three.
Hamlet matched a career high with 29 points, the third consecutive season she has had a 29-point performance. This marked the first time in Hamlet’s career that she scored 20+ points in a home game and the sixth time in her career she’s surpassed the 20-point plateau, with the first five taking place away from the ARC. Hamlet hit five 3s and went 8-of-8 at the free-throw line.
Richards had her first career made field goal and ended up going 3-for-3 shooting on her way to a season-high seven points. Profitt went 5-of-7 for a career-high 11 points, Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) racked up 23 points and a team-high six rebounds and Blood made all four shots she attempted to finish with 10 points.
The Crusaders had four players in double figures for the first time this season.
Valpo went 18-of-20 at the free-throw line, the team’s first time shooting 90 percent or better at the stripe since Jan. 28 of last season (93.8 percent at UIC).
The team totaled 24 assists, Valpo’s most since Feb. 6, 2006, a 91-44 win over Centenary that also featured 24 assists.
Valpo owns a winning record through nine games for the second consecutive season – the first time the program has had a winning mark through nine games in back-to-back seasons since 2007-08 and 2008-09.
The Crusaders upped their home record to 4-0 and extended their home winning streak that dates back to last season to six. Valpo is off to its first 4-0 home start since 2007-08 and has its longest home winning streak since 2007.
Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow
On Maya Meredith: “I’m so proud of her. She has had court vision her entire career; that’s what we liked about her when we recruited her. She showed that tonight and she displayed that in the fourth quarter against Chicago State. Maya is starting to step up and will hopefully continue to come into her own.”
On Meredith Hamlet: “She was ready to score. She caught the ball ready, ran the floor and got to the right spots. She was very focused on both ends. She did a good job on the defensive end leading the charge vocally and being more aggressive.”
On Bryce Blood: “Bryce Blood had a great first half and played well early in the second half. It didn’t really show up on the stat sheet, but her running the floor set up opportunities for other players. Bryce was always in the right place at the right time.”
On Offensive Improvement: “They’re catching the ball ready to shoot. We’ve been getting more shots up in practice. Seeing the ball go in will continue to give us more and more confidence. We’re passing the ball well so that our shooters are in good positions to knock those shots down.”
The Crusaders will hit the road for a noon CT tip at Eastern Illinois on Monday in Charleston, Ill. – the final nonconference road game of the season. The game can be seen on the OVC Digital Network and heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso with Ben Ariano and Brandon Vickrey. Links to live video, audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.
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