Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) registered his first double-double of the season with 15 points and ten rebounds Wednesday night, but it was not enough, as Valparaiso dropped a Horizon League contest at Loyola, 68-61.
The Ramblers jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead less than three minutes into the game, and held the lead for the first 10 minutes of the game. Loyola was up four points just over nine minutes in, but the Crusaders ran off 13 unanswered points to take a nine-point lead. Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) kick-started the run with two 3-pointers, and Jarryd Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) capped it with a triple of his own with 6:52 remaining in the first half to put Valpo up 23-14.
The Crusaders held a two-possession lead for the next few minutes, with a jumper by Bryan Bouchie (Washington, Ind./Washington) putting Valpo ahead 28-22 with 4:16 left in the opening stanza. But that was the last Crusader basket of the first half, as Loyola ended the half on a 11-0 spurt, including five points from Justin Cerasoli, to take a 33-28 advantage into the half.
The Ramblers maintained the lead throughout the first portion of the second half and went up eight points at 55-47 on a pair of free throws by Darrin Williams with 9:13 to play. But the next few minutes were all Valpo, as the Crusaders reeled off a 13-2 run over the next six minutes.
Diebler started the spurt with a pair of free throws, and Igbavboa followed with a short jumper in the lane to cut the deficit to 55-51. Freshman Michael Rogers (Kingston, Jamaica/Redemption [N.Y.] Christian) drained a 3-pointer two possessions later to bring Valpo within one point with six minutes to play. Following a basket by Loyola, Diebler knocked down his third 3-pointer of the contest to tie the game at 57.
Igbavboa came up with a big block on the next Rambler possession, and Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) converted a fast-break layup to give Valpo its first lead since late in the first half. Igbavboa added a free throw with 3:09 to play to put the Crusaders ahead by three points.
“I was happy with the poise we showed coming back from the second half deficit,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew. “I thought Urule really did a good job in the post and rebounding the ball. Jake played some excellent defense and had another nice game shooting the basketball.”
But Darrin Williams single-handedly turned the game back Loyola’s way in the final couple minutes. Williams stopped the Crusader run with a pair of free throws with 2:46 remaining, and put Loyola up for good with a layup with 1:58 on the clock. Another bucket by Williams with 1:12 left gave the Ramblers a 63-60 edge, and Loyola knocked down five of its next six free throws to secure the win.
Diebler was the only Crusader besides Igbavboa to hit double figures, ending the game with 11 points, his second consecutive double-digit outing. Loyola (10-16, 6-10 Horizon) was paced by 19 points and seven rebounds from Williams.
“I thought the two big keys tonight were free throw shooting and rebounding,” said Drew. “Loyola out-rebounded us by 15 boards, and they also hit 78% of their free throws to our 52%.”
Valparaiso (15-12, 6-9 Horizon) hosts its second nationally televised game from the ARC in under a month on Saturday, as Miami comes to town as part of the O’Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters event. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. on ESPN Classic, with Sam Gore and Sedric Toney on the call. And as always, all the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso; WWLO, 89.1 FM, Lowell) or online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Todd Ickow and Adam Amin can also be heard live across North American on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 121.