Valparaiso head coach Homer
Drew earned his 600th career victory in easy fashion Friday
evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center, as the Crusaders
led from start to finish in a 71-47 win over Loyola.
Drew becomes the eighth
current Division I head coach (at least five years DI experience) to reach the
600-win milestone, and is just the 32nd Division I coach all-time (at
least ten years D1 experience) to reach the plateau. Drew is in his 32nd year as a
collegiate coach and his 20th overall at Valparaiso.
He earned 252 wins during an 11-year stint to open his head coaching
career at Bethel [Ind.], won 17 games in one season at the
helm of IU-South Bend, and has won 331 contests to date at Valpo.
“600 is just a number, it’s
just a testament to the quality of players and assistant coaches I’ve had that
have allowed me to coach this long,” said Drew.
“Our team has had the courage to get better throughout this season even
though we’ve been struggling, and I’m really happy for our guys because this
win gives us a chance to still host a home conference tournament game. Thanks to the loyal fans and students who
have kept coming out this year and kept supporting us as we constantly get
The outcome was really never
in doubt from the beginning, as the Crusaders raced out to a 13-2 lead within
the first 7:30 of the game. De’Andre Haskins (Long
Beach, Calif./La Lumiere [Ind.] School) and Erik
Buggs (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) each got fast-break layups
off of steals in the first 1:11 to jump-start the game. Freshman walk-on Andrew Ferry (Milwaukee, Wis./Milwaukee Lutheran), seeing his
earliest action of the year, and Howard
Little (Chicago, Ill./Stoneridge [Calif.] School) knocked down triples in a
three-possession span later in the run, which was capped with a Cameron Witt (Launceston, Tasmania,
Australia/Launceston) layup with 12:31 remaining in the half.
“I thought we really started
the game well,” said Drew. “We have been
working hard in practice all week and have had a number of very good practices,
and that translated into the start of the game tonight.”
Loyola would cut the lead to
seven points at 15-8 with 9:23 to play in the opening stanza, but Little hit
another trifecta to push the lead back to ten.
The advantage remained around ten points for the remainder of the half,
until the Crusaders got triples from Michael
Rogers (Kingston, Jamaica/Redemption
[N.Y.] Christian) and Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper
their final two possessions to make it 33-19 at the break.
Valpo continued to push
coming out of the locker room, opening the second half on a 6-2 spurt, capped
by another Diebler 3-pointer, to make it an 18-point game. The Crusaders had the advantage up to 20
points with 12:14 to play, but Loyola had one big run left in it. The Ramblers went on an 11-1 run over the
next four minutes, getting eight points from Jordan Hicks during the stretch,
to cut Valpo’s lead to 51-41 with 8:19 to play.
But one more quick spurt
would salt the game away in the Crusaders’ favor. Buggs split a pair from the free throw line
with 8:06 remaining, got a rebound on the defensive end, and then found himself
open in the corner for a 3-pointer off a feed by Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan). On the next defensive trip, Igbavboa blocked
a shot, corralled the rebound and found Little ahead of the pack for a
fast-break layup to push the lead back out to 57-41 with 7:20 to play. Loyola got no closer than 14 points the rest
of the way.
Little led the Crusader
effort with 17 points, including a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the arc, and also
registered five rebounds and four steals.
added 12 points and ten rebounds off the bench for his third double-double of
the season, while the balanced scoring attack saw five other Valpo players
score at least seven points.
“Howard has really been
practicing a lot with his shot, and I think it shows, as he’s shooting the ball
the best he’s shot it since he arrived here,” said Drew. “Not only that, his defensive effort remains
magnificent. He is constantly getting
his hands into passing lanes and getting deflections and steals that lead to
baskets on the other end.”
Diebler, who finished with
eight points, four rebounds and three assists, set a new Valpo Division I
record with his 92nd The senior has
started every single game since the beginning of his sophomore year. Diebler also had his streak of consecutive
minutes played, believed to be a Crusader all-time record, broken at 278 when
he was removed with 1:41 to play. straight start, surpassing former Crusader
great Dan Oppland.
Hicks led Loyola (12-15, 4-11
Horizon) with 11 points, while Darrin Williams added ten points. Justin Cerasoli, who poured in 28 points in
the first meeting between the two squads, was limited to just two points on
1-of-6 shooting by the Crusader defense Friday.
Valparaiso (7-18, 4-10 Horizon) moved into seventh place alone
in the league standings with Friday’s win, and will attempt to move closer to
sixth position and a possible home tournament game when the Crusaders suit up
Sunday at the ARC at 3 p.m. to face UIC.
As always, all the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio
Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WAKE, 1500
AM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City) and online at www.valpoathletics.com. The
game can also be seen throughout Chicagoland on Lakeshore Public
Television. Live video and statistics
will also be available through the official Crusader website.