Valparaiso improved to 9-2 on the season Wednesday night at the ARC, as all ten Crusaders who dressed played at least 14 minutes in Valpo’s 79-54 victory over Trinity International.
The balanced effort saw no Crusader play more than 24 minutes, while nine of the ten played at least 18 minutes. The balance showed up in the scoring column as well, as all ten players scored at least four points and four Crusaders finished in double figures. Freshman Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) led the way off the bench with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting in 19 minutes of action, while also recording three steals.
Junior Keith Carter (Maywood, Ill./Proviso East [Saint Louis]) hit his first five shots from the field en route to 12 points and also grabbed a career-high seven rebounds. Freshman David Skara (Zadar, Croatia/Ekonomska Skola Zadar) made his first career start and finished with 11 points, four rebounds and three assists, while senior Vashil Fernandez (Kingston, Jamaica/Princeton Day [Md.] Academy) was 3-of-3 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the line and closed the night with ten points, six rebounds and a game-high four blocked shots. Fernandez now has 101 blocks for his career, fourth-most in Crusader history.
Trinity International, an NAIA school playing Wednesday’s game as an exhibition contest, led for much of the first six minutes, as the Trojans connected on three early triples and led by as many as six points. Valpo would take the lead for good on a steal and fast-break layup by Skara, making it 14-13 Crusaders with 13:34 to play in the first half.
TIU stuck within one possession for the next few minutes, as a short jumper from the Trojans’ James Glass cut the Crusader advantage to 20-19 with 7:37 to play in the half. But over the next 1:37, Valpo quickly pulled away. The quick 8-0 spurt started with back-to-back baskets inside from sophomore Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington), both off assists from Walker and the second coming following a Walker steal.
Walker then connected on a jumper in the paint following a Trojan miss, and after the Crusaders forced a one-and-done on TIU’s next trip, Carter grabbed the defensive board and went coast to coast, making it 28-19 Valpo with six minutes to play in the period and forcing a Trojan timeout. The 8-0 spurt started a larger 22-5 run for the Crusaders to end the half, as Walker ended up with eight points during the run and Peters six. A pair of free throws from sophomore Nick Davidson (Munster, Ind./Andrean) with less than three seconds to play in the half gave Valpo a 42-24 edge at the break.
The lead would remain right around the 20-point mark for most of the remainder of the game, as Valpo would not let Trinity International close to any closer than 15 points. The Crusaders closed the game on a 10-2 run, including a pair of baskets from senior David Chadwick (Charlotte, N.C./Hargrave Military Academy [Rice]), to pull ahead by the final margin.
The Crusaders ended the night shooting 51.7% (31-of-60) from the floor despite going just 2-of-11 from behind the 3-point line. Valpo enjoyed a 44-33 edge on the glass, led by Carter’s seven rebounds, and dominated TIU in the paint, 48-12. Peters handed out a team-high four assists to go with seven points, while freshman Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) posted seven points, four rebounds and a game-high four steals off the bench. Six different Crusaders accounted for ten blocked shots on the evening as well.
Trinity International was led by ten points from David Chatman, while Justin Peeples added nine points. The Trojans shot just 28.8% from the field, but were 12-of-13 from the foul line.
Valparaiso (9-2) closes out its three-game homestand at the ARC Saturday night against Ball State. Live video will be available through the Horizon League Network/ESPN3.com, while live audio will be available on the Valpo Sports Network. Links for the live video and audio, as well as live stats, can be found at ValpoAthletics.com.