19 first-half points from Lavonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) helped propel Valparaiso to a 10-point halftime lead on Milwaukee Saturday afternoon at the ARC, a lead the Crusaders would never relinquish in the second half en route to a 75-62 win over the Panthers.
The Crusaders got off to a slow start from the field Saturday, falling behind 14-5 seven minutes into the game as they hit just two of their first ten field goal attempts. Following Valpo’s second timeout of the game, the offense started clicking as it hit its next five shots from the floor. Dority was responsible for three of the makes, including a 3-pointer, while sophomore Keith Carter (Maywood, Ill./Proviso East [Saint Louis]) knocked down a triple of his own and hit Dority for his three, as the Crusaders cut the Milwaukee lead to 20-17 halfway through the period.
Milwaukee got the lead back up to four at 22-18 before Valpo put together a quick 9-0 run to take the lead for good. Freshman Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) started the spurt with a nice inside move for a layup, and two possessions later, Carter fed fifth-year senior Moussa Gueye (Thies, Senegal/SEED Academy [Alabama/Lake Land (Ill.) College]) for a two-handed slam to tie things up at 22 apiece.
Carter then came down on the next trip and pulled up for his second triple of the half, forcing a Milwaukee timeout with 5:48 remaining in the period and the Crusaders leading 25-22. After a defensive stop, Dority drove and finished at the rim to cap the nine-point spurt and give Valpo a five-point lead.
A triple from the Panthers’ Austin Arians with 4:16 to go in the half brought Milwaukee back within two points, but the Crusaders closed the half on an 11-3 run to earn a 40-30 lead at the break. The run was highlighted by back-to-back dunks from junior Vashil Fernandez (Kingston, Jamaica/Princeton Day [Md.] Academy) and Dority, with the latter making it a double-digit game at the half thanks to his third 3-pointer with under a minute to play.
The lead remained with a few points on either side of the 10-point lead for most of the second half, with the Crusaders extending the lead to as many as 13 at 52-39 with 14:10 remaining following a 7-0 spurt capped by a Carter 3-pointer. The lead was still 12 with 7:09 to play, but Milwaukee sliced its deficit in half over the next two minutes, as an inside basket from Matt Tiby made it a 60-54 game with five minutes to go.
The Panthers missed a 3-point attempt on their next trip, however, and the Crusaders took advantage, as senior Jordan Coleman (North Hollywood, Calif./Calabasas [Southwestern Ill. College/Hawai'i]) hit a jumper in the lane while being fouled, knocking down the free throw to push the lead back to nine points. After a pair of Carter free throws, Milwaukee scored the next four points to cut the lead to seven, but freshman Lexus Williams (Chicago, Ill./Marist) hit two from the line and followed the next time down by hitting Dority on the right wing for the dagger 3-pointer.
Dority ended the night with 27 points, his second consecutive 20-point game and his third in Valpo’s last four outings. The senior went 9-of-16 from the floor, including 5-of-10 from beyond the 3-point line, and also grabbed five rebounds. Dority was joined in double figures by Williams, who went 7-of-8 from the foul line in a 12-point effort, and Carter, who scored 10 points on just three field goal attempts and also handed out a team-best five assists.
The Crusaders shot 43.4% (23-of-53) from the floor for the game, and despite being limited to just seven second-half field goals, got the job done at the foul line, going 18-of-21 at the stripe in the final 20 minutes. Valpo also enjoyed a significant 47-30 edge on the boards, led by 12 rebounds from Gueye and six from Fernandez. Both posts also blocked a pair of shots apiece.
Milwaukee (13-7, 3-3 Horizon) was led by 22 points from Tiby on 7-of-12 shooting, while Jordan Aaron scored 13 points as well. The Crusaders limited UWM to just 32.3% (20-of-62) shooting from the field, including just 6-of-31 from beyond the 3-point line.
Valparaiso (11-9, 3-2 Horizon) opens up its swing through northeast Ohio next weekend on Thursday evening at Youngstown State. Tipoff is slated for 6:05 p.m. CT, 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 through ValpoAthletics.com.