Valparaiso trailed the entire game as the Crusaders fell to Troy Saturday afternoon in Statesboro, Ga.
in Legends Classic action, 80-64.
starts five seniors, four from last year’s team and a 6’9” transfer from Alabama,” said Crusader
head coach Homer Drew. “They have been picked by a number of
publications to represent their league in the NCAA Tournament, and they really
played with experience today against our nine freshmen and sophomores.”
Troy scored the first nine points of the game in a
span of 2:19 and extended its advantage to 23-8 just eight minutes into the
contest. The lead remained double
figures for most of the remainder of the first half before the Crusaders put
together a quick 6-0 spurt on a Brandon
Wood (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo [Highland C.C./Southern Illinois]) layup, a
3-pointer by Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis,
Ind./Lawrence North) and a free throw from Cory
Johnson (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East [Iowa State]) to close to within 33-25
with 2:58 remaining in the opening stanza.
The Trojans extended
their lead back out to 11 points before Wood knocked down a triple on a feed
from McPherson with eight seconds to play in the half. But Troy’s Richard Delk answered with a
3-pointer of his own with two seconds remaining in the opening period to put
the Crusaders down 39-28 at the break.
“We played a number of
people a lot of minutes today after we got behind early,” said Drew. “Tommy
Kurth (Osceola, Ind./Penn) came in and really was the glue that
held us together when we made the run to get us down to an eight-point
deficit. Then he caught an elbow late in
the first half and got hurt, which really changed the complexion of the game
for us. With Tommy down to go along with
Mike and Howard playing limited minutes as they recover from injuries, it just
left us shorthanded.”
Troy pushed the lead up
to 17 points early in the second half, but a mini-run by the Crusaders that
included a 3-pointer from Matt Kenney (Mooresville,
Ind./Mooresville) and a jumper in the lane by Cameron Witt (Launceston, Tasmania, Australia/Launceston) cut the
lead back down to 12 points with 15:33 to play.
answered immediately with nine straight points, and Valpo was unable to get any
closer than the final margin the rest of the way.
Wood led the way for
Valpo with 19 points, while Kenney scored a career-high 11 points and Johnson
added 11 points as well. Johnson also
tied for game-high honors with eight rebounds, while Erik Buggs (Memphis,
Tenn./Mitchell) dished out four
assists off the bench.
“Tommy gave us a great
spurt in the first half, and then I was really pleased with Erik in the second
half, giving us good energy and good defensive effort,” said Drew. “He really helped us try to fight back in that
second half, as well as Matt, who also played well today.”
Troy (4-2) placed four starters in double figures in
the scoring column, as Antywan Jones and Delk led the way with 14 points
apiece. Michael Vogler handed out eight
assists to lead all players, as the Trojans connected at a 50.9% (28-of-55)
clip from the floor and 81.0% (17-of-21) from the foul line.
Valparaiso (2-4) concludes play at the Legends Classic
subregional in Statesboro on Sunday afternoon, facing Arkansas-Fort Smith at
noon CST. As always, all the action can
be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WEFM [95.9 FM, Michigan City], WAKE [1500 AM, Valparaiso], WLPR [89.1 FM, Lowell]), with
links for live audio and live statistics available at www.valpoathletics.com.