The Valparaiso men’s basketball team made sure it would leave Canada on a winning note Friday evening, dominating host University of Ottawa inside the 3-point line to overcome 14 made 3-pointers by the Gee-Gees in an 84-76 win at Montpetit Hall.
The two-time defending national CIS silver medalists, Ottawa came in to the game with the reputation of being a team that shot a lot of 3-pointers, and the Gee-Gees lived up to that reputation. Ottawa attempted 35 triples among its 63 field goal attempts, hitting 14-of-35 (40%) from deep, while Valpo was just 3-of-21 from the 3-point line.
But the Crusaders more than made up that deficit with its work inside the 3-point line. Valpo went 32-of-58 (55.2%) from 2-point range, while holding Ottawa to an 11-of-28 (39.3%) mark on the same shots. The Crusaders also went to work on the glass, out-rebounding the hosts 47-36 and grabbing 15 offensive rebounds.
Leading the way for Valpo, both offensively and on the boards, was junior Jubril Adekoya (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew). Adekoya knocked down seven shots from the floor and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the foul line for a team-high 20 points, while also pulling down 10 rebounds – six of which came on the offensive glass – for a double-double.
Adekoya had plenty of company offensively on Friday, as five Crusaders in all finished in double figures in scoring. Junior Shane Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands/Oakley College [LSU]) hit 7-of-10 from the field for 14 points – his fifth double-figure scoring game in as many games on the trip – and narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds.
A trio of Crusaders ended the night with 11 points as well. Senior Darien Walker (Chicago, Ill./Simeon [John A. Logan/Arizona Western]) and sophomore Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) both scored 11 points from the starting lineup, while sophomore Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) added 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and tallied seven rebounds and three steals off the bench.
Valpo led at the end of each of the four quarters, but the first three-plus periods were tightly contested. A 39-37 lead at the half turned into a 55-52 deficit with 3:28 to play in the third quarter, but the Crusaders ended the period on an 11-2 run as five different players scored during the stretch.
Adekoya scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to extend Valpo’s lead into double figures, but the Gee-Gees would rally, pulling to within 76-73 with just under 2:30 remaining in the game. The Crusaders would close strong, however, scoring on each of its final four possessions – starting with a second-chance basket by Adekoya, and followed by hoops from Hammink, Joseph and senior Keith Carter (Maywood, Ill./Proviso East [Saint Louis]). Defensively, Valpo forced back-to-back misses from Ottawa in the same stretch and then forced a turnover to ice the game.
All eight Crusaders who played on Friday saw at least 11 minutes of action, including seven who played at least 20 minutes. Valpo sat seniors Vashil Fernandez and E. Victor Nickerson, junior Alec Peters and sophomore Lexus Williams. The win concluded Valpo’s Canada tour with a 4-1 record.