Gritty is continuing to battle down 10 points with less than two minutes to play. Gritty is three offensive rebounds in the final 80 seconds, leading to a pair of second-chance baskets. Gritty is drawing a pair of offensive fouls in the backcourt in the final 40 seconds.
And gritty is keeping your head up after missing a potential game-tying free throw, knowing you could have another chance to decide the game. That was the situation junior Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) faced with 2.9 seconds to play with Valpo trailing by one. After Illinois State missed the front end of its one-and-one, Golder grabbed the rebound, took three dribbles and unleashed a running right-handed effort from 50 feet that banked in with the clock at triple zero, setting off a raucous celebration in the ARC as Valpo celebrated a 58-56 victory over the Redbirds in both teams’ MVC opener.
How It Happened
- The situation looked dire for Valpo when Illinois State’s Matt Chastain tipped in a Redbird miss with 2:07 to play, giving ISU a 54-44 advantage.
- 10 seconds later, junior Ryan Fazekas (Chesterton, Ind./Marquette Catholic [Providence]) converted both ends of a one-and-one to cut the deficit to eight points.
- Valpo got the ball back with 1:31 to play following a travel by Illinois State, and while it missed a pair of free throws, Golder got in there to rebound the second and went back up with it for a basket, making it a 54-48 game with 1:15 remaining.
- Valpo was called for a pair of fouls on the next defensive possession, putting the Redbirds in the bonus, but a miss on the front end with 47 seconds to go was grabbed by Golder, and junior Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) came down with a quick pull-up 3-pointer to make it 54-51 with 38.4 seconds to go.
- Golder then took a charge from ISU’s Milik Yarbrough in the backcourt to get Valpo possession with a chance to tie, but a turnover returned possession to the Redbirds.
- Forced to foul, Valpo sent Keyshawn Evans to the line for a one-and-one, where he hit both to make it 56-51 with 26 seconds to go. The Brown and Gold came down and missed a pair of 3-point attempts, but got offensive rebounds on both. The second came from junior Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville), who went back up inside and converted to bring Valpo within 56-53.
- Golder then drew his second charge on Yarbrough in the backcourt in the final minute to regain possession, and then found himself at the line for three free throws with 5.1 seconds to play after he drew a foul on an attempt from deep.
- Golder hit the first two free throws, but his potential game-tying effort came up short, and Valpo was forced to foul Zach Copeland with 2.9 seconds to play trailing by one. That proved to just set up Golder’s buzzer-beating heroics, however.
- The late comeback was necessary thanks to a prolonged drought from the field spanning both halves. Smits made an inside basket with 4:58 to play in the first half which gave Valpo a 25-21 lead, but the next field goal for Valpo would not come until Fazekas connected on a 3-pointer with 11:08 to play in the game – a span of 13:50 – to snap an 18-2 Illinois State run as the Redbirds had pushed their lead to 12 points.
- Fazekas would hit a trio of second-half 3-pointers, the last of which came with 4:03 remaining and cut what had been a 50-38 Illinois State advantage just two minutes earlier to 50-44. The Redbirds would score on two of their next three possessions, however, to again lead by double figures as the clock hit the two-minute mark.
Inside the Game
- The buzzer-beater was Valpo’s first game-winner with the clock at zero since Ryan Broekhoff connected on a 3-pointer to give Valpo the 70-69 win in the 2013 Horizon League semifinal at the ARC over Green Bay.
- It was Valpo’s first game-winner from beyond halfcourt since Greg Tonagel drilled a heave from the opposite 3-point line for a 71-68 win over Belmont at the ARC on Jan. 11, 1999.
- Golder’s shot came in at the top spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 on Wednesday night’s countdown. He became the third different Valpo athlete over three different sports to earn a SportsCenter Top 10 spot since Valpo joined The Valley.
- Valpo won its MVC opener this year after needing four games to earn its first MVC victory last season.
- Trailing by 10 points following Chastain’s tip-in with 2:07 to play, Valpo had just a 1.3% win probability at that point. According to KenPom.com, that ranks 12th in Division I this season on the list of lowest win probabilities for teams that eventually won the game.
- Gritty is bouncing back after being limited to four first-half minutes after picking up two fouls. That’s what Fazekas did on Wednesday, as he scored 11 of his team-high 14 points in the second half.
- Golder’s game-winning shot put him in double figures for the night with 10 points, while he came up just one shy of his season best with seven rebounds and drew six fouls in the win.
- Smits added 10 points and nine rebounds as well in the victory.
- The 58 points Valpo scored in the winning effort matches the program’s fewest points in a victory since a 54-44 win over Green Bay in the 2015 Horizon League championship game.
Valpo (8-6, 1-0 MVC) looks to make it a 2-0 start to conference play on Saturday afternoon as it plays at Missouri State. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m., and the game can be seen live on ESPN3.