The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team saw its eight-game winning streak come to a halt Saturday afternoon in Green Bay, Wis., as the Phoenix of Green Bay dealt the Crusaders an 86-69 defeat. With the loss, Valpo’s lead over Green Bay atop the Horizon League standings was cut to one-half game.
How It Happened
- Valpo led twice early, but each time Green Bay gained the lead with a 3-pointer. The Phoenix would pull out to a 14-6 lead just 5:35 into the game.
- Seniors Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) and Shane Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands/Oakley College [LSU]) both hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first 10:06 of the game to keep the Crusaders within striking distance.
- Hammink’s second triple started a 7-0 spurt which drew the Crusaders to within one point at 23-22 with 9:01 to play in the half. But Valpo then went scoreless for a stretch of nearly four minutes as Green Bay pulled back out to an eight-point lead.
- The Phoenix lead swung between four and nine points the remainder of the half. Freshman Micah Bradford (Bradley, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) converted a driving layup with 51 seconds to play in the period to cut the deficit to 39-34, but Green Bay’s Charles Cooper scored four points in the final 37 seconds to give the Phoenix a 43-34 lead at the break.
- Green Bay scored the first five points of the second half to push its advantage into double figures for good.
- A 14-4 run gave the Phoenix a 68-45 lead with 10:37 to play, and the lead was still 21 points with 6:45 to go.
- Valpo scored seven straight points in a span of 1:22 to cut the deficit to 14 points, and after four in a row by the Phoenix, the Crusaders rattled off a 9-1 run over a 90-second stretch to make it a 79-69 ballgame. But the Crusaders’ comeback effort stalled at that point, as Valpo missed its final four shots from the floor.
Inside the Game
- The Crusaders entered the game 19th in the nation in rebounding margin (+7.1) and were a league-best +10.4 on the glass within Horizon League-only play, but were dominated on the glass by the Phoenix.
- Green Bay out-rebounded Valpo, 53-32 – 20 of the Phoenix’s 53 rebounds came on the offensive boards.
- The -21 margin on the glass was the Crusaders’ worst since the 2014 squad was out-rebounded by 22 by Milwaukee in the second round of the Horizon League Championship at Green Bay.
- Meanwhile, the Crusaders surrendered 20 offensive rebounds on the road against the Phoenix for a second straight season – Green Bay converted those opportunities into 17 second-chance points on Saturday.
- The Phoenix were just 2-of-13 from the field over the first 5:30 of the second half, but grabbed nine offensive rebounds in that stretch.
- Valpo also struggled to keep the Phoenix off the foul line, as Green Bay attempted 35 free throws – the most the Crusaders have surrendered this year. Valpo’s -17 differential in free throw attempts was also its worst of the season.
- Entering the game as the nation’s top free throw shooting team, Valpo hit just 11-of-18 from the stripe on Saturday. The Crusaders’ 61.1% clip from the foul line was their worst of the year and was the first time they’d been under 70% since the Santa Clara loss.
- Peters led Valpo on Saturday, finishing with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting as well as eight rebounds.
- Peters now own 19 efforts of at least 20 points this season, the most in a single season by a Crusader going back to at least the 1994-95 campaign.
- Junior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) added 16 points and seven rebounds, while Hammink chipped in 12 points.
- Seven different Green Bay (15-9, 9-3 Horizon) players scored at least eight points in a balanced effort, led by 17 points from Kerem Kanter. Kanter and Khalil Small tied for game-high honors with nine rebounds, while Tevin Findlay handed out seven assists without committing a turnover.
The Crusaders (19-5, 9-2 Horizon) return home to host Cleveland State Thursday evening at 7 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.