Trailing by three points with under two minutes to play, Valparaiso’s defense forced three consecutive Wright State turnovers and the offense took advantage, as Shawn Huff (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) hit a 3-pointer to tie the game and Jarryd Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) converted a fast-break layup off a steal to give Valpo the lead for good on the way to a 71-66 victory Thursday evening in Dayton, Ohio. The win, which marked the first Horizon League contest for the Crusader men, snapped Wright State’s 14-game home winning streak.
“I was really proud of our composure down the stretch,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew. “Shawn did a great job getting open and making a critical shot, then Jarryd and Jake combined to make a key defensive steal and got a fast break layup. Finally, Urule did a tremendous job pulling down two defensive rebounds late and making his free throws.”
Wright State held a 66-63 lead after a 3-pointer by Vaughn Duggins with 2:37 left in the game, but the Crusaders did not let the Raiders hit another shot the rest of the way. After two WSU turnovers, Huff nailed his third trifecta of the game to tie the contest at 66 with 1:05 to play. Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) combined with Loyd to strip Todd Brown on the Raiders’ next possession, and Diebler proceeded to feed Loyd for the fast-break layup to give Valpo the lead.
Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) closed out the game for the Crusaders. Brown missed a long jumper with 19 seconds to play, and Igbavboa fought off the Raiders for the rebound and converted both of his free throws to make it a two-possession game. After Vaughn Duggins missed an off-balance runner, Igbavboa again grabbed the board and hit another attempt from the charity stripe to clinch the victory.
The contest was a game of runs, and it was Wright State which took the early advantage, owning a 24-12 lead with 7:04 to play in the opening half. But the Crusaders closed out the half on a 22-6 spurt, getting ten points from Huff and six from Igbavboa during the run, to take a 34-30 halftime advantage.
Valpo scored five points in the first 40 seconds of the second stanza to extend its lead to nine points, but the Raiders responded with a 14-2 run over the next five minutes to re-take the lead at 44-41. The Crusaders scored the next seven points, including two Loyd triples, over a two-minute span to move back on top at 48-44 with 12:43 to play.
Wright Stateanswered immediately, scoring 11 of the next 13 points, including eight from Vaughn Duggins, over a three-minute stretch to gain its biggest lead of the second half at 55-50. But Valpo used the 3-point shot to come right back, getting two trifectas from Loyd and one from Diebler over a four-possession span to spark an 11-1 spurt, giving the Crusaders a 61-56 lead with 6:26 to play. Wright State responded with a 10-2 run to set up the ending sequence.
Loyd paced the Crusaders with 18 points in 27 minutes off the bench and also added five assists against just one turnover. Huff and Igbavboa each scored 16 points, while Igbavboa also tied for game-high honors with seven rebounds. Diebler used a 6-of-7 performance at the charity stripe to also finish in double figures with 12 points.
Duggins led Wright State (2-2, 0-1 Horizon) with 18 points, including four triples, while Todd Brown and Scottie Wilson added 12 points apiece. The Raiders hit 12-of-19 (63.2%) of their 3-point attempts, including 6-of-7 in the second half, but were just 11-of-38 (28.9%) inside the arc. Valpo hit 11 3-pointers on 23 attempts, marking the fourth consecutive game that the Crusaders have hit at least 10 triples.
Valparaiso (7-1, 1-0 Horizon) continues its first weekend of league play on Saturday, as the Crusaders travel to Detroit to take on the Titans. Tipoff is set for 3:05 p.m. CST, and 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) or online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. The game can also be seen on the Horizon League Network at www.horizonleaguenetwork.tv.