The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team made it two victories in as many nights to start off the 2016-17 season at the ARC Saturday evening, rallying from a double-digit first-half deficit to put away a feisty Trinity Christian squad, 89-75.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders struggled mightily shooting the ball in the first half, ending the opening 20 minutes just 1-of-15 from 3-point range and shooting just 27.3% overall.
- Meanwhile, Trinity Christian seemingly couldn’t miss in the first half, ending the period 6-of-10 from beyond the arc and 18-of-32 total from the floor.
- The game was tied at 9-9 just over five minutes in following a 3-pointer by senior Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) before the Trolls went on a 19-3 run over a five-minute stretch to extend their lead to its largest at 28-12.
- The Trinity Christian lead was still 16 points at 37-21 as the clock ticked under five minutes for the first half, but Valpo ended the half out-scoring the Trolls 15-8 over the final stretch to close within 45-36 at the break.
- Five straight points by the Crusaders over the opening three minutes of the second half forced a Trinity Christian timeout. The Trolls briefly extended their lead back to seven points with a triple, but Valpo responded with nine straight points in a span of just 1:19 – capped by a 3-pointer from junior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) – to regain the lead for the first time since the early stages of the game.
- TCC tied the game at 50-50 with 14:53 to play, but the Crusaders put together one more big spurt to take control, out-scoring the Trolls 13-0 over the next three-plus minutes. Valpo had just one empty offensive possession during the run, which featured nine points on the fast break.
- With the lead 74-59 with 7:19 remaining, the Trolls put together one final push, scoring the next nine points to close to within 74-68 with 4:44 to play. They actually had the ball with a chance to get closer, but came up empty, and the Crusaders got a fast-break layup from senior Shane Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands/Oakley College [LSU]), followed by fast-break dunks by senior Jubril Adekoya (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) and Peters following turnovers to keep Trinity Christian at bay.
Inside the Game
- Redshirt junior guard Lexus Williams (Chicago, Ill./Marist) tied a program record for steals in a single game on Saturday, coming up with seven steals. He joins two others who accomplished the feat, most recently Milo Stovall in 1999.
- Williams spearheaded Valpo’s defensive effort in the second half, picking up five of his steals in the final 20 minutes. The Crusaders forced 12 Troll turnovers in the second half and turned those into 19 points, while also limiting Trinity Christian to 34.5% shooting from the floor in the final period.
- Peters led the Crusaders on Saturday, finishing with 36 points and 15 rebounds. The 15 boards matched his career high, while he scored at or above the 30-point threshold for the seventh time in his career.
- Peters was not the only Crusader to finish with a double-double, as Hammink joined him – the senior scored 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds. He also handed out four assists.
- Adekoya finished with 13 points and six rebounds, while Williams totaled six points and seven assists – one off his career best – to go with his seven steals. Joseph, making just his second career start, ended the night with seven points, six rebounds and four assists as well.
- Valpo rebounded from its dismal first-half shooting to hit at a 57.9% clip from the field in the second half. The Crusaders scored 21 second-chance points off of 19 offensive rebounds, and also enjoyed a 50-24 edge in the paint.
- Trinity Christian, an NAIA squad playing Saturday night’s game as an exhibition, was led by 19 points from Juozas Balciunas, who hit 8-of-12 from the field. Christian Cantu handed out a game-high nine assists for the Trolls.
The Crusaders (2-0) look to make it three wins in four nights Monday evening at the ARC as they host Coppin State at 7 p.m. at 7 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app and heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for the live video, audio and stats can be found at ValpoAthletics.com.