Heading into a holiday known for extra helpings of food, fans at the ARC got an extra helping of basketball Wednesday evening, as Valparaiso and SIUE went into overtime before Valpo out-scored the Cougars 7-2 in the extra period to earn a 75-70 victory.
How It Happened
- Freshman Javon Freeman (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) got on the floor going after the overtime jump ball, helping Valpo earn the first possession and setting the tone for an extra period in which Valpo gave up just two points.
- The lone basket of the first three-plus minutes of overtime was a driving layup from junior Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) 50 seconds into the period to give Valpo a 70-68 lead.
- SIUE leveled the game at 70-70 with a jumper in the paint with 95 seconds remaining in overtime, but Valpo reclaimed the lead just 19 seconds later as Freeman split a pair of free throws after being fouled.
- The biggest defensive play of the overtime came on SIUE’s next trip, as junior Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) stepped in front of a pass and intercepted it. Golder was fouled on the break and knocked down both free throws to make it a 73-70 game.
- Senior Deion Lavender (Alton, Ill./Marquette Catholic [UAB/Southern Illinois]) cleared the glass off an SIUE miss on its next possession, and with about a 10-second difference between the game and shot clock, Valpo ran the shot clock nearly all the way down before Evelyn drove and found a wide-open Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) for an easy layup to secure the victory.
- The final eight minutes of regulation was all played within one possession, part of a second half which saw 10 ties and six lead changes. With the game tied and just over one minute to play, SIUE split a pair of free throws for a 66-65 lead, but Lavender came down and was fouled while shooting with 47 seconds to play and split his pair to tie the game at 66-all.
- Tyrese Williford drove inside for a layup with 20 seconds remaining to give the Cougars a 68-66 advantage, but Valpo opted for a quick hitter with the shot clock off and Evelyn connected on an elbow jumper to again tie things up. Williford’s 3-point attempt was off the mark as the game headed to overtime.
- A 9-2 run midway through the first half helped erase a four-point SIUE lead, and when junior Ryan Fazekas (Chesterton, Ind./Marquette Catholic [Providence]) connected on a 3-pointer with 5:55 to play in the half, Valpo led 24-21.
- Just a minute later, with the lead still three, SIUE started a 10-0 run which gave it a 33-26 lead with 2:06 to play in the half. But as it has done all year long, Valpo ended the half strong, scoring four points in the final 40 seconds on a pair of free throws from sophomore Mileek McMillan (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville) and a fast-break layup by Golder to move within 33-31 at the half.
- Valpo took the lead outright just 1:32 into the second half as Evelyn scored the first four points of the period. Later in the half, an 8-2 run – capped by a 3-pointer from freshman Daniel Sackey (Winnipeg, Manitoba/Thornlea) – gave Valpo its largest lead at 45-39 with 11:29 to play.
- SIUE came back with a 6-0 spurt over the next 90 seconds to tie the game, however. The Cougars would eventually gain their first outright lead since early in the second half on a putback by Williford with 6:22 remaining, setting up the back-and-forth end of regulation.
Inside the Game
- Wednesday was just the second overtime game in head coach Matt Lottich’s three years at the helm of the Valpo program – the Crusaders had lost the previous one in double overtime to Santa Clara at the ARC on Dec. 22, 2016.
- All five Valpo starters scored in double figures on Wednesday in a balanced effort, led by a season-high 16 points from Evelyn, who went 5-of-8 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line. 15 of Evelyn’s points came after halftime.
- Freeman continued the strong start to his collegiate career with 11 points, making it five straight games in double figures to open his career. The freshman also pulled down a season-best six rebounds and handed out four assists.
- The other three Valpo starters all tallied 10 points apiece. Smits notched his 10th point on the final basket of the game to go with eight rebounds. Fazekas ended the night with 10 points and five rebounds, while Lavender narrowly missed a double-double with 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
- Valpo out-scored SIUE from the foul line 21-8, going 21-of-33 versus the Cougars’ 8-of-15. Valpo also limited SIUE to just 4-for-21 shooting from the 3-point line.
Valpo (3-2) faces a challenge on Saturday afternoon, as the Brown and Gold travels to Morgantown, W.V. to take on West Virginia in a non-bracketed game as part of the Myrtle Beach Invitational. The game is scheduled to tip at 1 p.m. CT and can be seen live on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh.