The Valparaiso men’s basketball team earned a 66-64 win over Murray State in Murray, Ky. in its final non-conference matchup before Horizon League play begins next week. Senior Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport) scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Crusaders, who overcame an 11-point first-half deficit.
“Murray State, we believe, is definitely an NCAA Tournament team,” said head coach Bryce Drew. “For us, I would say that this is the best game of the year that we have played. We executed our offense well and we were able to rebound the ball.”
Both teams held leads in the second half in a battle between nine-win teams.
Ben Boggs (Roanoke, Va./Hidden Valley [Virginia Tech]) gave the Crusaders the lead with a pair of free throws and then added a three-pointer from the right wing to put the Crusaders in front 59-54 with just more than five minutes remaining. The three-pointer capped off a 10-0 Crusaders run and Valpo never relinquished the advantage.
Twice the Racers cut the lead to three in the waning moments, but Bobby Capobianco (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland [Indiana]) hit a transition layup with seventeen seconds left and and Boggs drilled a pair of free throws with five ticks remaining to stave off Murray State. The Racers' leading scorer, Isaiah Canaan, hit a trey with less than a second left to make it a two-point Crusaders win.
“It was back and forth, I thought we had a nice run in the first half,” said Drew. “It was kind of one of those games that whichever team could get the last run would win, and thankfully we were able to get that last run.”
The Racers began the game on a 13-2 surge and hit four three-pointers in the first eight minutes. Broekhoff helped the Crusaders battle back, scoring 10 first-half points, including a stretch of nine straight during a 9-0 run. The uprising gave Valpo a 23-22 lead with 3:38 left in the first half. Broekhoff finished the spurt with a dunk after Jordan Coleman (North Hollywood, Calif./Calabasas [Southwestern Ill. College/Hawai'i]) kept the possession alive by saving the ball from going out of bounds. Coleman found Will Bogan (Boise, Idaho/Vallivue [Ole Miss]), who fed Broekhoff for the slam.
The Racers reclaimed the lead in the second half, but Valpo had another answer. The Crusaders used a 7-0 run to take a 43-42 lead with 12:47 remaining in the game. Coleman hit a three-pointer and finished the stretch with a reverse layup in transition.
Coleman scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds while Kevin Van Wijk (Hoofddorp, Netherlands/Katholieke Scholengemeenschap Hoofddorp) finished with eight points and nine rebounds. Valpo shot 44 percent in the game and went 5-of-10 from three-point land in the second half. The Crusaders received 21 points from their bench to complement a balanced offensive attack.
The Crusaders benefited from 16 second chance points in the game. Capobianco pulled down four offensive caroms while Van Wijk snatched five on the offensive end. In total, the Crusaders won the rebounding edge 42-26.
Canaan, a preseason All-America selection, scored 24 points on 8-of-21 from the field to charge the Racers offense. Ed Daniel added 14 points and six rebounds while Dexter Fields scored 12 points on four three-pointers.
With the Crusaders nursing a 62-59 lead with under two minutes to play, the Racers threatened to tie the game. Stacy Wilson missed a three-point attempt with 61 seconds left and Canaan missed a contested NBA-range triple with 26 seconds to go.
Saturday marked just the second all-time meeting between Murray State and Valparaiso and the first since the Racers earned a 78-58 win during the 1999 season. The Crusaders' win marked just the fifth loss for the Racers over the last two seasons.
Valparaiso (10-4) return to action on Wednesday when it begins Horizon League play against Loyola. Tip is set for 7:05 p.m. from the Athletics Recreation Center, and as always, the game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and seen live on the Horizon League Network. Links for the live audio and video, as well as live stats, will be available through ValpoAthletics.com, while ValpoGameday.com is your one-stop shop for live video, stats and interactive chat on the same page.