Valparaiso led wire-to-wire on Tuesday evening at the ARC, jumping out to a 20-7 lead less than eight minutes into the game en route to an 85-70 victory over UCF. The win is the Crusaders’ fourth in as many home games at the ARC so far this season.
It was the play of freshman Lexus Williams (Chicago, Ill./Marist) which helped get the Crusaders out to their quick start on Tuesday, as the rookie scored nine points in the first six minutes of the game. Williams opened the game hitting each of his first three shots, including a basket on the first possession and a 3-pointer later in the half, and also assisted on a basket by fifth-year senior Bobby Capobianco (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland [Indiana]) during the opening run.
Williams’ triple made it 15-7 Valpo 6:07 into the contest, and on the Crusaders’ next possession, the freshman hit fellow rookie Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) for a 3-pointer to give Valpo a double-digit lead for the first time. The Crusaders closed the opening run with a second-chance basket on their next trip, as senior Jordan Coleman (North Hollywood, Calif./Calabasas [Southwestern Ill. College/Hawai'i]) threw down a two-handed slam to make it 20-7 Valpo with 12:37 to play in the first half.
The Crusaders extended the first-half lead to as many as 14 points on a triple by senior LaVonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) with 7:43 left in the period, allowing them to withstand a 9-0 run by the Knights over the next three minutes, a spurt which was ended by a putback basket from Capobianco. Dority would find freshman Jubril Adekoya (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) for an inside bucket in the final minute of the half to close the first-half scoring, as Valpo led 41-33 at the break.
Valpo allowed UCF to get no closer than seven points in the second half, as the lead remained in the low double figures for most of the final 20 minutes. The Knights were still within nine points at 66-57 with 6:32 to go, but a 3-pointer from Peters pushed the lead back into double digits, and after a UCF basket, the Crusaders scored six straight, including four points from Coleman, to salt the game away.
The balanced Crusader effort saw five players end the night in double figures in the scoring column, led by 16 points from Peters, who hit four 3-pointers. Coleman came off the bench with 15 points, while Capobianco went 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line for 14 points. Capobianco also finished with game highs of nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
Dority contributed 12 points to the winning effort, going a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe, while Williams finished with 10 points and four assists. Valpo, which also had two others finish with eight points, shot 54.2% from the field (26-of-48), including 20-of-28 from inside the 3-point line. The Crusaders were effective from the foul line as well, going 27-of-33 (81.8%), out-rebounded UCF – which entered the game with an average rebounding margin of +11 - 34-32, and handed out 17 assists while committing only nine turnovers.
Calvin Newell led UCF (3-2), which came into the ARC off of a road win at Miami (Fla.) last time out, with 16 points, but the Crusaders limited Newell to just 4-of-15 shooting from the floor. Kasey Wilson posted 15 points and six rebounds, while Tristan Spurlock ended the night with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Valparaiso (4-3) continues the four-game homestand on Friday evening as the Crusaders host Mercer in a post-Thanksgiving showdown at the ARC. Tipoff is slated for 7:05 p.m., and as always, all the action 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 at ValpoAthletics.com.