Valparaiso surrendered just four points to James Madison over the final 12:22 of the first half Saturday afternoon in non-league action at the ARC, turning a six-point deficit into a 13-point halftime lead en route to an 81-49 victory over the Dukes.
The win was the largest for the Crusaders over a Division I opponent since an identical 81-49 win over Toledo on Dec. 12, 2009. It came thanks to stellar efforts on both sides of the ball, as Valpo shot a solid 58% (29-of-50) from the field, 45% (9-of-20) from beyond the 3-point line and a near-perfect 14-of-16 (87.5%) from the foul line. Meanwhile defensively, the Crusaders held James Madison to 38.1% shooting (16-of-42) and limited the Dukes to just two 3-pointers.
Fielding a new starting lineup for the first time this season, as freshmen Jubril Adekoya (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) and Lexus Williams (Chicago, Ill./Marist) joined the starting group for the first time, Valpo held a slim 8-7 lead three and a half minutes into the ballgame. But James Madison went on an 11-4 spurt over the next four minutes, taking an 18-12 lead as it threatened to put Valpo down double figures early for the fourth consecutive game.
The Crusaders locked down from there, however, giving up just four points in a 23-4 run to close the first half. Over that stretch of 12:22, Valpo limited James Madison to just 1-of-10 shooting from the floor and also forced ten turnovers from the Dukes. Jordan Coleman (North Hollywood, Calif./Calabasas [Southwestern Ill. College/Hawai'i]) jump-started the run with five straight points, including a fast-break dunk, and fellow senior LaVonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) gave Valpo the lead for good with a 3-pointer with 9:40 to play I the half.
The senior combo combined for 13 consecutive points to push the lead out to 26-18, and then when the Dukes scored the next four to close to within four points, Adekoya answered with four straight to kick off a 9-0 spurt to close the half. Freshman Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) converted an old-fashioned 3-point play with 50 seconds to play in the period, and fifth-year senior Moussa Gueye (Thies, Senegal/SEED Academy [Alabama/Lake Land (Ill.) College]) capped the half with a putback just before the buzzer as Valpo went into the locker room leading 35-22.
If there was any doubt as to the eventual outcome, the Crusaders erased that doubt at the start of the second half. James Madison scored 29 seconds into the half, and would not score again as Valpo put together a 13-0 run over a four-minute stretch. Four different Crusaders scored during that run, including six points from Dority, as Valpo extended its lead to 24 points at 48-24 with 15:27 to play. The lead would not fall under 19 points the rest of the way, and the Crusaders pushed it out to as much as a 34-point game late.
It was a balanced winning effort for the Crusaders, which finished the day with four players in double figures in the scoring column. Coleman led the way with 16 points off the bench, missing just one of his seven field goal attempts while also handing out four assists. Dority went 5-of-7 from the floor for 15 points and dished out five assists, while Peters matched Dority with 15 points. In his first career start, Williams also went 5-of-7 from the floor, scoring 12 points and picking up four steals defensively. Gueye led all players with 11 rebounds as the Crusaders enjoyed a 32-17 advantage on the glass over the Dukes.
James Madison (2-4) was led by 14 points apiece from Taylor Bessick and Charles Cooke, the latter also picking up four steals. Jackson Kent added 11 points as well in the losing effort.
Valparaiso (3-3) continues its four-game homestand Tuesday evening at the ARC, welcoming UCF to town. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m., and as always, all the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and seen on the Horizon League Network. Links for the live video and audio, as well as live stats, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.