A strong all-around team effort was the recipe for the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team to get back to its winning ways on Monday evening, as the Crusaders led nearly the entire way in a 76-68 victory at Santa Clara.
How It Happened
- Valpo started strong against the Broncos on Monday night, jumping out to a double-figure lead just nine minutes into the game as the Crusaders went ahead 19-8.
- Santa Clara closed to within 21-15, but the Crusaders would score the next seven points and maintained the double-digit lead the rest of the half, eventually taking a 39-26 lead into the halftime break.
- A 3-pointer from junior Joe Burton (Porter, Texas/Atascocita [Oklahoma State]) with 17:16 to play gave Valpo its largest lead at 49-32.
- Santa Clara would rally, however, as the Broncos started the second half on a hot streak offensively. Valpo still led by 11 points at 55-44 with 12:13 to play on an inside bucket from freshman Parker Hazen (Columbia City, Ind./Columbia City), but Santa Clara scored the next eight points over the next four minutes to close to within 55-52 with eight minutes remaining.
- A big second-chance basket from senior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) snapped the Broncos’ run, as that would be the last time Valpo’s lead fell to one possession.
- With the lead at 59-54 and under five and a half minutes to play, the Crusaders ran off an 8-0 run over their next three possessions – courtesy of a Burton 3-pointer, a strong finish inside from sophomore Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) and a 3-pointer by sophomore Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) – to push the lead to 13 points with four minutes remaining.
- Santa Clara would get no closer than eight points over the final four minutes.
Inside the Game
- The win snapped the Crusaders’ three-game losing streak.
- Valpo enters its final non-conference game one win away from earning its 10th victory over the year, which would give the Crusaders double-figure wins in non-conference action for the fifth time in the last six years.
- The Crusaders finished the game shooting 56.3% from the floor and were 9-of-18 from 3-point range – the second time this year Valpo has hit at 50% from downtown while making at least nine triples.
- Valpo also matched a season high with 21 assists after averaging just 8.2 assists per game over the last five contests.
- The Crusaders’ balanced team effort was paced for 14 points and four rebounds from Burton, who connected on a trio of 3-pointers.
- Golder finished with 12 points, five rebounds and tied for team-high honors with four assists, while sophomore Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./ Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) posted 11 points and four assists.
- Both Smits and Joseph added four assists as well off the bench, with the latter adding eight points and four steals as well.
- Valpo, which entered the game holding a +7.7 advantage on the glass for the year, reached that mark on Monday with a 33-25 edge on the boards. Sophomore John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) led the Crusader effort on the glass with six rebounds.
- Santa Clara (3-8) was led by 24 points from KJ Feagin and 22 points from Henry Caruso. The Broncos hit four straight 3-pointers at one point in the second half as they connected on six of their first 11 from deep, but were just 2-for-10 from downtown over the last eight-plus minutes.
Valpo (9-3) heads to UC Riverside on Wednesday evening to close out non-conference play. Tipoff is slated for 9 p.m. CT, with links for the live coverage available at ValpoAthletics.com.