Fifth-year senior guard Brandon
McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence
North) scored 14 straight points to start a 21-0 Valparaiso run in the second half,
turning a nine-point deficit into a 12-point lead as the Crusaders went on to a
78-56 victory at the Athletics-Recreation Center Thursday evening over IU-South
Bend. McPherson ended the night with a
career-high 25 points.
“That first half was challenging, but I am pleased with the
way we played in the second half,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew. “We got much better effort and better results
defensively, and we stepped up and dominated the boards, especially on the
defensive end. I thought Erik really set
a good tone for us in the second half with his defensive play.”
The Titans of IUSB started the second half on a 10-4 spurt
to take a nine-point edge at 43-34 with 15:25 remaining before McPherson and
the Crusader defense started to take over.
The senior knocked down trifectas on three straight Crusader
possessions, all pull-up jumpers off the dribble, to tie things up at 43. Meanwhile, Valpo forced turnovers on five
straight IUSB possessions to help keep the Titans off the scoreboard during the
McPherson came out for a breather with 13 minutes left to
play, but picked up right where he left off when he was re-inserted into the
lineup 74 seconds later, drawing a foul and hitting two free throws before
knocking down another triple the next time down the floor off a feed from Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria,
Australia/Australian Institute of Sport) to make it 48-43 Valpo. The run continued on a pair of free throws by
Brandon Wood (Kokomo,
[Highland C.C./Southern Illinois]) and a
tip-in by Cory Johnson (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East
[Iowa State]) before McPherson added another fast break 3-pointer to cap the
kind of willed us to the lead there with his 14 straight points,” said
Drew. “I was happy to see that we didn’t
let [IUSB] back into the game after that, that we continued to grow the lead
The Titans would start to trade baskets with Valpo and were
still within nine points at 59-50 with 7:19 to play before one more run
cemented the game in the Crusaders’ favor.
Johnson knocked down a pair of free throws and then came up with a
monster tip dunk two possessions later to extend the lead to 13. After an IUSB miss, Erik Buggs (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) found Michael Rogers (Kingston,
[N.Y.] Christian) for a fast-break triple to make it 66-50. A Wood basket and single freebies from
Johnson and Buggs closed out the 11-0 Valpo run over a four-minute span.
The Crusaders held the lead for the first 11 minutes of the
ballgame, extending it to as much as six points at 16-10, but an 11-2 run gave
IUSB a lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the first half. The Titans had the lead up to eight points
with 2:03 remaining before the break before Howard Little (Chicago, Ill./Stoneridge [Calif.]
School) came up with a basket and Tommy
Kurth (Osceola, Ind./Penn) hit a 3-pointer to cut the
deficit to 33-30 at halftime.
McPherson totaled just nine official field goal attempts en
route to his 25-point performance, going 7-of-9 from the floor, including
5-of-6 from behind the 3-point line, and 6-of-8 from the free throw line. Johnson posted his first double-double as a
Crusader, hitting 6-of-9 shot attempts on his way to 16 points and a game-high
12 rebounds. Wood and Little each
reached double figures as well, scoring 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Demon Eubank led IU-South Bend, which was playing the game
as an exhibition contest, with 14 points off the bench and knocked down all
three of his 3-point attempts. Terry
Hill handed out a game-best four assists, while Quinn Brooks and Dave Clore
each came up with three steals as the Titans totaled 11 thefts.
Valparaiso (1-2) returns to action on Sunday, traveling to
East Lansing, Mich. to take on 2009 national runners-up
#2/2 Michigan State. The game will be
broadcast live nationwide on the Big Ten Network, while live audio can be heard
on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WEFM [95.9 FM, Michigan City] and WAKE [1500
AM, Valparaiso]), with a student broadcast also available through WVUR, 95.1
FM, Valparaiso. Links for the VSRN live
audio, as well as live stats, will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.