The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team earned yet another statement victory in its early-season schedule, capping a stretch of seven games over the season’s first 12 days by leading nearly start-to-finish in handling Oregon State on the road in Corvallis Tuesday night, 63-57. Head coach Bryce Drew earned his 100th career victory at the helm of the Crusader program with Tuesday’s win.
The win over the Beavers marks the second in program history over a current Pac-12 program, joining Valpo’s opening-round win at Washington in the 2008 CBI, and came at an arena where Oregon State posted a 15-2 record last season. The victory also makes the Crusaders the first team in the nation to six victories this year – a group of victories which includes an emphatic home win over preseason MAAC favorite Iona and a road win against one of the Atlantic 10 favorites in Rhode Island.
Meanwhile, Drew reached the 100-win milestone just seven games into his fifth season at the helm of the Crusaders. Drew is just the third head coach in Valpo history to win 100 or more games, joining his father Homer, as well as J.M. Christiansen. With two more wins, Drew will match Christiansen for the second-most wins by a head coach in program history.
After an even first few minutes, the first of a couple big momentum boosters for the Crusaders came to fruition. A 3-pointer from junior Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) with 13:56 to play in the half gave Valpo the lead for good. The Crusaders followed on each of their next two trips with triples as well, as senior E. Victor Nickerson (Atlanta, Ga./Norcross [Charlotte]) canned one in transition and then sophomore Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) hit one off an inbounds play as Valpo reeled off a quick 9-0 run to pull ahead 15-8.
About 90 seconds later, junior Shane Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands/Oakley College [LSU]) hammered a dunk over Oregon State’s Drew Eubanks - a harbinger of things to come later in the half. The Beavers had cut Valpo’s lead to 25-21 with less than four minutes remaining in the first period before Hammink and Nickerson made Gill Coliseum their personal playground.
Hammink threw down a fast-break slam with 3:33 to play in the half to start the above-the-rim show. Two possessions later, Nickerson followed suit on the secondary break, weaving his way into the lane and rising high above the rim for the slam. Then, two trips later, Hammink raised the stakes with a baseline drive and reverse slam for his third dunk of the first half. A Peters 3-pointer would cap the scoring in the first period, as Valpo carried a 34-25 lead into halftime.
Valpo wasted little time out of the locker room extending the lead, getting three baskets right at the rim and a pair of free throws as part of an 8-2 spurt before the first media timeout to extend the lead to 42-27. The lead reached its apex at 48-31 with 12:28 to play on a driving finish from Hammink, and the advantage remained in double figures for quite some time.
Another layup from Hammink kept a solid lead for the Crusaders with 5:05 remaining, as it pushed the edge to 58-42. But Valpo would get just two free throws from Nickerson over the next four-plus minutes, as the Beavers made one last push. An inside basket by Malcolm Duvivier with 1:21 to play cut the lead to single digits for the first time since the halftime break, and a 3-pointer by Stephen Thompson Jr. with 38 seconds to go made it a 61-55 game. Peters split a pair of free throws, but the Beavers’ next 3-point attempt was off the mark as Valpo held off OSU for the road win.
Hammink and Walker tied for team-high honors with 15 points apiece. Hammink also finished with six rebounds and three steals while going 6-of-9 from the floor, while Walker grabbed four rebounds and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the foul line. Peters joined the duo in double figures, scoring 11 points despite struggling from the floor, and also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds for the eighth double-double of his career. Peters’ effort on the boards led the way as Valpo out-rebounded the Beavers, 40-30.
Gary Payton II led Oregon State (4-1) with 25 points and 11 rebounds, but needed 25 field goal attempts to get his 25 points. No other OSU player finished in double figures as the Crusaders limited the Beavers to just 37.5% (21-of-56) shooting from the field.
Valparaiso (6-1) gets a brief break before returning to the road to conclude a three-game stretch away from home Saturday afternoon at Ball State. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. CT, and can be seen live on ESPN3.com and heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for the live video, audio and stats will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.