The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team maintained its spot atop the Horizon League standings Friday evening at the ARC, taking a double-figure lead over Wright State just over six minutes into the game and then holding off a late run by the Raiders to earn a 70-55 victory – the team’s sixth straight win.
How It Happened
- Valpo got off to a quick start Friday, hitting eight of its first 11 shots from the floor. WSU took a pair of early two-point leads, but Valpo put together an early 13-0 run, including 3-pointers from freshman Micah Bradford (Bradley, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) and junior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College), to take a quick double-figure lead.
- Senior Shane Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands/Oakley College [LSU]) connected on back-to-back 3-pointers just past the midway point of the half to push an 11-point Crusader lead to 17 points.
- The lead would remain around the mid-teens for the remainder of the opening period, and the advantage was 38-23 at halftime as senior Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) capped a 17-point, eight-rebound first half with a putback with 29 seconds remaining.
- Wright State cut the lead to 11 early in the second half, but Valpo responded with seven points on three consecutive possessions for a quick 7-0 spurt to push the lead back to 18.
- Freshman Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) knocked down a short shot inside with 12:13 to play in the game, giving the Crusaders a 50-33 advantage. That would prove to be Valpo’s last field goal for nearly 10 minutes, however, as Wright State crept back into the game.
- The Crusaders actually extended their lead thanks to six free throws, earning their largest edge at 56-35 with 9:14 to play. But Valpo could only summon four more free throws over the next six-plus minutes, and the Raiders took advantage with an 18-4 run – capped by a 3-point play by Mark Alstork – to pull to within 60-53 with 2:58 remaining.
- Given a second chance on a rebound out of bounds on their next possession, the Crusaders converted, as Walker knocked down a deep jumper for the first field goal since Sorolla’s basket nearly 10 minutes earlier.
- After a pair of free throws by Alstork, it was a recurring sight for Crusader fans, as Peters threw over the top of the press to Walker, who emphatically threw down a one-handed slam. Two trips later, Walker then slammed the door on the Raiders with a 3-point play on the fast break as Valpo scored the game’s final eight points.
Inside the Game
- Valpo extended its longest winning streak of the year with the victory, and has now won each of its last five games by double figures. The Crusaders are now just one double-figure win shy of matching their stretch from last season, when they won six consecutive league outings by at least 10 points.
- Wright State had won four of the last six games in the series before Friday’s victory. The 15-point win marked Valpo’s largest win over the Raiders since joining the Horizon League.
- Peters enjoyed another of his normal stellar outings to lead the Crusaders, finishing with a game-high 25 points and leading Valpo with 14 rebounds. The senior went 10-of-11 from the foul line and also handed out four assists against just one turnover.
- Hammink and Walker joined Peters in double figures, finishing with 15 and 12 points, respectively. Hammink matched his career high with three makes from 3-point range, while Walker added six rebounds as well.
- The Crusaders continued their season-long dominance at the foul line, hitting their final 12 attempts of the game as they went 17-of-20 from the charity stripe.
- Sorolla recorded three of Valpo’s six blocked shots, while junior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) tallied a team-high three steals.
- Valpo owned a 39-35 advantage on the glass, the ninth straight game the Crusaders have out-rebounded their opponents. While WSU grabbed 11 offensive rebounds to Valpo’s three, the Crusaders actually held a slight 4-2 advantage in second-chance points.
- Alstork led Wright State (14-8, 5-4 Horizon) with 14 points, but was just 5-of-15 from the field. Justin Mitchell registered a double-double with 11 points and a game-best 16 rebounds.
- Valpo limited the Raiders to 23-of-68 (33.8%) shooting for the game. Wright State went just 3-for-28 from 3-point range, missing its first 18 attempts from downtown.
- With the win, the Crusaders remain one game up in the loss column on Green Bay for first place in the Horizon League. Valpo is now three losses clear of a multi-way tie for third place.
The Crusaders (17-4, 7-1 Horizon) will take the court again Sunday afternoon, looking to close out their four-game homestand on a high note Sunday afternoon as they host Northern Kentucky at 1:30 p.m. As always, the game can be seen live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app, and heard live on the Valpo Sports Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WVLP, 103.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for the live coverage will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.