OU crushes Valpo, 88-55

Senior guard Victoria Lipscomb leads a Golden Grizzly fast break. Lipscomb finished with two points, five assists, four steals and a block. 

The Oakland University women’s basketball team (7-9, 2-1 Horizon) extended their home winning streak to five games on Wednesday night with an 88-55 victory over conference opponent Valparaiso University (2-13, 0-2). 

“I’m really proud of how our team played,” OU head coach Jeff Tungate said. “To get to where we want to go in the conference, you’ve got to protect your home court.”

OU sophomore guard Elena Popkey led all scorers with a career-high 25 points, hitting over 71 percent of her shots and shooting over 5-of-6 from 3-point range. Popkey also added six rebounds and six assists to her near-perfect performance.

“She’s hard to guard,” Tungate said. “She can shoot the three, she can put the ball on the floor and she can pass.”

Oakland set the tone early, hitting 4-of-7 from downtown before the first media timeout, giving them a 12-8 lead.

The Golden Grizzlies’ ability to not turn the ball over until the 9:44 mark in the first half allowed them to distance themselves from the Crusaders. 

“Taking care of the basketball is something we’ve stressed from day one and for the most part, I think that’s something we’ve done really well this year,” Tungate said.

Oakland didn’t look back. With 12 3-pointers in the first half, they had already surpassed their season-high for threes made in a game, which previously stood at 11. 

Popkey and Grizzly junior guard Amy Carlton led the first half in scoring and were a combined 9-for-9 from behind the arc, giving Oakland a 50-23 halftime lead.

Throughout the second half, the Grizzlies maintained their steady pressure, never allowing the Crusaders to get closer than 25 points.

Oakland’s strong defense held the Valpo to 39 percent shooting on the night. They dominated around the net as well, outrebounding the Crusaders 39-24 and blocking eight shots.

As a team, the Grizzlies shot a season-high 47 percent from 3-point range, and their 88-point effort is their second-highest of the year.

Coach Tungate is preparing his team for their next opponent, the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“As of last week they had the best RPI (Rating Percentage Index) in the conference,” he said. “They are very talented, it’s going to be an extremely tough game for us and it’s one we’re going to have to be ready for.”

The Grizzlies finish up their two-game homestand against UIC this Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Athletics Center O’rena.