The Valparaiso men’s basketball team was unable to capture a Senior Day victory on Saturday afternoon at the ARC, falling to Cleveland State, 63-52. The Crusaders end the regular season in fourth place in the Horizon League standings and will open the 2014 Horizon League Championship Tuesday evening at the ARC against ninth-seeded UIC at 7 p.m.
The Crusaders held the lead Saturday through the early stages of the game, extending their lead to as many as five points at 11-6 6:42 into the game on a 3-pointer from senior Bobby Capobianco (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland [Indiana]). Cleveland State answered with seven straight points to claim the lead, an edge the Vikings would push to five points midway through the half.
CSU still held a five-point lead at 22-17 with 5:50 to go in the first before the Crusaders put together an 11-2 run over the next three minutes to go ahead 28-24. Senior Lavonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) and freshman Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) both had five points during the spurt, with a fast-break triple from Dority capping the run and giving the Crusaders a four-point lead.
The Vikings scored the next seven points, however, and entered halftime with a 34-31 lead following back-to-back 3-pointers from Trey Lewis. CSU then started the second half on a 14-4 run to go ahead by 13 points and the Crusaders were unable to get the deficit into single digits the rest of the way.
Dority led Valpo with 13 points, while Capobianco and Peters added nine points each. Fifth-year senior Moussa Gueye (Thies, Senegal/SEED Academy [Alabama/Lake Land (Ill.) College]) led the Crusaders on the glass with six rebounds. Valpo shot just 44.2% from the field and 30.8% from 3-point range for the game, while committing 18 turnovers which CSU turned into 22 points.
Cleveland State (21-10, 12-4 Horizon), which had already secured second place in the league standings entering the day, had six different players score eight or more points, led by 11 points apiece from Lewis and Marlin Mason. Ludovic Ndaye added 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Valparaiso (17-14, 9-7 Horizon) will host UIC at the ARC Tuesday night in the first round of the 2014 Horizon League Championship at 7 p.m. Details regarding tickets and availability will be posted Sunday morning.