In a back-and-forth battle Saturday night at Southern Illinois, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team led by three points with 2:21 to play, but the Salukis scored the game’s final nine points as the Crusaders fell by a 65-59 final.
How It Happened
- In a game of spurts, the teams traded early runs. The Crusaders scored the game’s first three points before SIU scored six straight.
- Valpo answered with seven straight – including a 3-pointer from sophomore Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) and inside baskets by sophomore Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) and Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) – to take a 12-8 lead.
- The Crusaders extended their advantage to 19-12 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half on a 3-pointer by sophomore Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest [Ariz.] Academy/Southfi eld Christian [Nebraska]).
- SIU would hold Valpo scoreless over a stretch of nearly six minutes, going on an 11-0 run over the span to pull ahead 23-19.
- The Crusaders responded with a 10-0 run of their own over the next 3:30 to go ahead by six points. Golder connected on another 3-pointer during the run, while Evelyn had a pair of baskets as well.
- Each team scored just once apiece in the last couple minutes of the first half, as Valpo entered the locker room with a 31-25 halftime advantage.
- The teams traded baskets early in the second half, as each of the first five possessions – three for Valpo and two for SIU – resulted in made shots at the rim. Valpo’s lead was still eight points with 16:55 to play on an inside bucket from senior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College).
- With the advantage at six points a couple minutes later, SIU reeled off six straight to tie the game, but Valpo responded with 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions from Walker and Evelyn to make it a 47-43 lead with 10:52 to play.
- The Salukis scored the next five points to take their first lead of the second half at 48-47 with 8:39 to go before Golder answered on Valpo’s next possession with a triple to regain the lead.
- SIU again pulled out in front briefly on a Tyler Smithpeters 3-pointer with 5:06 to play, but Evelyn had the answer on the other end with an old-fashioned 3-point play as Valpo pulled back ahead. The Salukis tied the game on their next possession, but two trips later, a Golder dunk made it 57-55 with three minutes to play.
- After SIU connected on one of two from the foul line, Walker made a pair at the stripe to push the lead to three points with the clock nearing two minutes. SIU’s Kavion Pippen converted a 3-point play to tie the game on the Salukis’ next possession, and Valpo missed shots in the lane on its next two trips.
- Armon Fletcher broke the tie with a 3-pointer from the corner for SIU with 44 seconds remaining to give the Salukis the lead for good. A pair of good looks from the 3-point line in the final 35 seconds would not fall for the Crusaders.
Inside the Game
- Walker paced three Crusaders in double figures with 16 points and added five rebounds.
- Evelyn finished with 13 points and set a new career best by pulling down nine rebounds – surpassing his eight-rebound performance against UNCW earlier this season.
- Golder matched Evelyn with 13 points off the bench. The sophomore also registered six rebounds and handed out a career-best five assists.
- Both Valpo and SIU shot 49% (24-of-49) from the field for the game. The Crusaders were 6-of-19 from 3-point range, while their strong 3-point defense continued, as the Salukis were just 3-for-15 from distance.
- The Crusaders couldn’t overcome the difference at the free throw line, as SIU went 14-of-24 from the charity stripe, while Valpo made just 11 trips and was just 5-for-11.
- Valpo was also undone by 17 turnovers – 14 of which were committed in the first half. Despite turning the ball over six more times than SIU, the Crusaders actually held a 13-11 advantage in points off turnovers.
- Pippen led Southern Illinois (16-9, 8-4 MVC), which remained in second place in the Valley standings, with 21 points as he went 9-of-11 from the floor.
Valpo (12-13, 3-9 MVC) hits the road again next week for a Wednesday night game at Evansville. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., and as always, the game can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN3 and heard on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso).