Career nights from junior Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) and senior Deion Lavender (Alton, Ill./Marquette Catholic [UAB/Southern Illinois]) were not enough Wednesday evening for the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team to come out victorious, as Valpo dropped its second overtime home game of MVC play to Indiana State, 87-82.
How It Happened
- Valpo led by five, 59-54, with nine minutes to play in regulation before Indiana State’s De’Avion Washington got a third-chance basket to cut Valpo’s lead to three points. Neither team had more than a three-point lead for the duration of regulation.
- Holding the lead inside the final four minutes, Valpo misfired on five consecutive free throw attempts to allow Indiana State to stay within striking distance. Valpo split a pair from the line to break the streak with 1:55 to play, but a basket 11 seconds later from Indiana State tied the game at 69-69.
- The teams traded empty possessions, and junior Ryan Fazekas (Chesterton, Ind./Marquette Catholic [Providence]) was fouled as he corralled the defensive board with 46 seconds to play. Fazekas knocked down both free throws to put Valpo on top, 71-69.
- The Sycamores got to the foul line on the offensive end, with Tyreke Key connecting on a pair to tie the game with 33.4 seconds to play in regulation.
- Valpo got a pair of looks on its final possession, but could not knock either down as the game headed to overtime.
- Indiana State went on top for good 12 seconds into the extra period. The Sycamores pulled out to a seven-point advantage at 79-72 with 2:53 to play following 3-pointers on two straight possessions from Washington.
- Lavender connected on a 3-pointer with 22 seconds to play to cut the deficit to four points, and after ISU split a pair from the foul line, got a second-chance basket with six seconds remaining to make it a one-possession game at 85-82. But the Sycamores’ Cooper Neese hit a pair of free throws to put the game away.
- Indiana State led throughout the first half as the Sycamores scored the game’s first seven points. ISU pushed the lead to 10 points twice in the opening period, the later coming at 37-27 with 2:59 to play in the period.
- Lavender scored four points as part of a 9-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer from junior Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./ Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) with 35 seconds to play in the half, which brought Valpo within one point. The Sycamores would take a 39-36 lead into the locker room.
- Valpo took its first lead of the game at 44-43 with 17:14 to play on a putback from Smits. The Crusaders extended their lead to five points twice around the midpoint of the second half on 3-pointers by sophomore Mileek McMillan (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville).
Inside the Game
- The overtime loss was the second in Valpo’s last three home games, as the Crusaders fell to Missouri State in overtime on Jan. 29.
- The foul line proved to be the difference on Wednesday, as Valpo went just 27-for-40 (67.5%) from the stripe as compared to a 25-of-28 (89.3%) mark for Indiana State.
- Valpo’s 40 free throw attempts was its highest total of tries from the line against a D-I opponent since attempting 42 free throws against Detroit on Jan. 8, 2017.
- Valpo shot 50% from the field for the game and was 7-of-18 from the 3-point line, but committed a season-worst 21 turnovers which Indiana State converted into 29 points.
- Wednesday was Valpo’s first loss in MVC play when scoring 60 or more points this season (5-1).
- Valpo, which entered the game best in the conference in defensive efficiency within conference play, surrendered 1.15 points per possession to the Sycamores Wednesday. The 87 points given up marked Valpo’s worst defensive performance by points allowed since giving up 88 at West Virginia earlier this year.
- Smits led Valpo on Wednesday with his fourth double-double of the year, matching his career high with 23 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, just one board shy of his career best. The junior was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field.
- Meanwhile, Lavender scored a season-high 16 points and missed just one shot from the floor (5-6 FG). It was just one point off his career high, set during his time at UAB. Lavender also tied for game-high honors with four assists Wednesday.
- Evelyn totaled 11 points, while freshman Daniel Sackey (Winnipeg, Man./Thornlea) scored 10 points to round out the four Crusaders in double figures. Sackey came up with four steals as well to match his season best.
- Fazekas returned to action after missing Valpo’s previous nine games and scored seven points.
- Indiana State was led by Key, who finished with a game-high 32 points.
Valpo (13-13, 6-7 MVC) hits the road for a Saturday afternoon game at Drake. The 2 p.m. tip can be seen live on ESPN3.