trailed by eight points with 4:36 to play Sunday afternoon in Horizon League
action at Green Bay, but outscored the Phoenix 19-6 the rest of the way to
claim a big 84-79 win in league play.
The win was the Crusaders’ first in Green Bay since 1991 and ended Valpo’s
four-game road trip with a 3-1 record.
thought this was a wonderful team victory tonight – we had ten people get in
the game and all ten contributed to this come-from-behind win,” said Crusader
head coach Homer Drew. “We had key plays and key moments coming from
a number of different players. It really
shows the character of our team, coming back from a tough loss two days ago against
win this game today. I’m just very proud
of what this young team has accomplished.”
Cotton capped a 10-2 run with a 3-pointer with 4:36 remaining to push the Phoenix advantage to
73-65, but the Crusaders would score on every possession the rest of the
way. Out of a timeout after Cotton’s
triple, Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis,
Ind./Lawrence North) hit Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston,
Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport) for a 3-pointer to cut the
deficit to five points.
Brandon Wood (Kokomo,
[Highland C.C./Southern Illinois])
came up with a steal on the defensive end and got fouled taking it to the
basket, hitting the first free throw before missing the second. But Cory
Johnson (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East [Iowa State]) knocked the rebound out of
bounds off a Green Bay player and took advantage immediately, as McPherson
found Johnson on the inbounds pass for a 3-pointer to make it 73-72 Green Bay
with 3:44 to play.
The Phoenix missed a shot on
its next trip and Johnson went to the foul line on Valpo’s offensive
possession, splitting the pair to tie things up at 73. Another Green
Bay miss gave the Crusaders a chance to take the lead,
and Johnson took full advantage, hitting another triple off a feed from Wood to
give Valpo a three-point lead with 2:09 remaining.
Perine hit a tough leaning runner to pull the Phoenix
back within one with 1:42 to play, but Matt
Kenney (Mooresville, Ind./Mooresville) hit Wood for a long jumper
to push the lead back to three points.
Randy Berry cut the Valpo advantage to 78-77 with 1:03 remaining with a
pair of free throws, but again the freshman Kenney made a big play, hitting a
turn-around 15-foot jumper to make the lead three points with 44 seconds on the
then came up with Valpo’s biggest defensive play of the game, stuffing Rahmon
Fletcher on a shot attempt with 25 seconds left. Wood corralled the rebound and would hit all
four of his free throw attempts down the stretch to not let Green Bay any
closer than three points as Valpo closed out the big road win.
last three and a half minutes of the game was the best basketball we played all
day,” said Drew. “Our defense came up
with some big stops and our offense was almost perfect in its execution. Ryan’s 3-pointer got us going, then Cory
stepped up and hit a couple of big 3-pointers.
Brandon [Wood] hit a tough shot and was clutch at the free throw
line. Matt stepped up as a freshman and
hit a big shot, and then Ryan came up with a big defensive play and also
handled the ball well against Green
first half tilted in Green Bay’s favor, as
despite the Crusaders shooting 52% from the field in the opening stanza, the Phoenix utilized a
14-for-16 effort from the foul line to take the halftime advantage. It looked like Green Bay would be up 43-32
going into the break after a tough jumper by Perine, but Broekhoff connected on
a step-back 3-pointer with three seconds remaining to cut the halftime deficit
to eight points.
shot at the end of the first half was a big key for us,” said Drew. “Instead of being down 11 going into
halftime, we were down just eight, and we felt it was key going into the second
half within single digits.”
it did Friday night, Valpo quickly erased the halftime deficit at the start of
the second half, as after the Phoenix started the half with a putback basket, the Crusaders reeled off a 13-2 run
over a stretch of 2:44 to take the lead. Wood, who scored just five first-half points, posted eight points and an
assist during the spurt that gave Valpo a 48-47 lead with 16:13 to play. The Crusaders and Phoenix
remained in a tight battle for most of the rest of the game until Green Bay’s run that set
up the closing sequence.
posted its best shooting night of the season, connecting on 27-of-46 (58.7%)
from the floor. The Crusaders also
continued their marksmanship from behind the arc, hitting on 11-of-22 (50%)
from 3-point range in the winning effort.
Crusaders finished in double figures on the afternoon, paced by 26 points from
Wood, who scored 21 of his points in the second half. Johnson hit on 8-of-10 from the field for 20
points, while McPherson chipped in 11 points and a game-high six assists. Kenney matched his career high of 11 points and
also dished out four assists without a turnover, and fellow rookie Broekhoff
contributed ten points off the bench.
Bay (15-9, 7-5 Horizon) which had won 16 consecutive league home games before
falling to Butler Friday night, was paced by 20 points from Troy Cotton. Perine went for 19 points, five rebounds and
five assists, while Berry
scored 14 and Seth Evans 13. The Phoenix
went 29-of-33 (87.9%) from the free throw line for the game, but the Crusaders
held GB to just 36% (9-of-25) shooting from the floor in the second half.
Valparaiso (11-12, 6-5 Horizon) plays five of its final
seven Horizon League games at home, including three straight starting Thursday
night against Detroit. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m., and as always,
the game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso) and can be seen on the Horizon
League Network. Valpo’s athletic website, www.valpoathletics.com, will have links
for live audio, video and statistics.