The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team was unable to get over the hump on Tuesday night at the ARC on Senior Night against UNI, as the Crusaders never led as they fell to the Panthers, 68-63.
How It Happened
- It was a slow start for both teams offensively on Tuesday, as a basket by UNI’s Isaiah Brown just 65 seconds into the game was the only scoring in the opening 6:30.
- A 3-point play from senior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) broke the seal on the Crusaders’ side of the scoreboard with 13:03 to play in the first half, and 32 seconds later, freshman Mileek McMillan (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville) knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 6-6 – what would prove to be the game’s lone tie.
- UNI regained the lead on its next possession with a 4-point play, and the Panthers extended their lead to 21-11 with 9:05 to play in the half on a dunk from Bennett Koch. The Crusaders responded with eight straight points over a span of 72 seconds – capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomores Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) and Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) – to cut their deficit to two points.
- Valpo looked to trail by just two points at the break following a 3-pointer from Evelyn in the final minute of the half, but UNI’s Hunter Rhodes drove for a layup in the waning seconds of the period to give UNI a 38-34 lead at intermission.
- The Crusaders kept UNI from extending its lead past eight points in the second half, but each time Valpo would cut the lead to three points, the Panthers responded. The Crusaders actually had a 3-point attempt with 14:14 to play which would have tied the game, but the shot would not fall.
- UNI pushed its lead to 48-40 midway through the half before a 7-2 stretch over a span of three minutes, capped by a mid-range jumper from Golder, brought Valpo back within three points. The Panthers immediately answered with a basket to push their lead back to two possessions.
- The Panthers’ lead was 59-51 with three minutes to go before a 3-pointer by Golder and a second-chance basket from senior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) made it a 59-56 lead with two minutes to play.
- Valpo had a chance to make it a one-point game on its next possession, but could not convert, and UNI’s Spencer Halderman connected on a triple with 47 seconds to play. Walker answered nine seconds later with a triple of his own to make it a 62-59 game, but the Crusaders would never get the ball back in a one-possession game the rest of the way.
Inside the Game
- Despite the slow start to the game in the first six-plus minutes, both teams shot better than 60% from the field in the first half.
- Valpo would shoot just 34.5% in the second half, and while the Crusaders held UNI to 8-of-18 field goal shooting over the final 20 minutes, the Panthers went to the foul line 22 times (13-of-22).
- For the game, the Crusaders shot 46% (23-of-50) to UNI’s 55.3% (21-of-38) clip. Valpo was just 8-of-13 from the foul line, compared to the Panthers’ 22-of-32 finish from the stripe.
- Evelyn led three Valpo players in double figures with 19 points, including three 3-pointers.
- Golder scored in double figures for the sixth straight contest, going 6-of-9 from the floor for 14 points while adding five rebounds and three assists. Walker finished with 13 points and four rebounds as well.
- Bennett Koch paced UNI (14-15, 6-11 MVC) with 25 points, going a perfect 8-of-8 from the field and 9-of-14 from the foul line.
- Prior to the game, Joseph and Walker were honored as part of Senior Night ceremonies. The duo then addressed the crowd after the game as well.
Valpo (14-16, 5-12 MVC) closes out the regular season Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Drake. The game can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN3 and heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso).