The Valparaiso men’s basketball team held a nine-point lead at Oakland with under five minutes to play, but the Golden Grizzlies scored the final 11 points of the game to send the Crusaders to a 70-68 defeat Monday night in Rochester, Mich.
The Crusaders trailed by as many as 10 points early in the second half and were down 48-39 with 15:21 to play, but a 13-2 run not only got Valpo back into the game, it gave the Crusaders the lead. Junior LaVonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) started the run with back-to-back baskets, and following an Oakland basket, redshirt junior Bobby Capobianco (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland [Indiana]) converted a 3-point play to bring Valpo within 50-46.
90 seconds later, senior Kevin Van Wijk (Hoofddorp, Netherlands/Katholieke Scholengemeenschap Hoofddorp) knocked down a pair of free throws to make it a two-point game. Two trips later, senior Ben Boggs (Roanoke, Va./Hidden Valley [Virginia Tech]) connected from inside to tie the game, and junior Jordan Coleman (North Hollywood, Calif./Calabasas [Southwestern Ill. College/Hawai’i]) followed with a steal and fast-break layup to put the Crusaders ahead 52-50 with 9:27 to play. Valpo held Oakland to just 1-of-12 shooting over the six-minute stretch to help take the lead.
The Crusaders continued to extend the advantage after taking the lead. A triple by Boggs at the 7:12 mark put Valpo up 59-54, and after Oakland had cut the lead back down to two points, Dority connected on a triple to make it 62-57 with 6:20 remaining. Dority’s 3-pointer opened up a 9-2 Valpo spurt, as Van Wijk hit baskets inside on each of the Crusaders’ next three possessions, the last of which put Valpo ahead 68-59 with 4:51 to go.
But the last Van Wijk layup marked the last Crusader points. Oakland hit three free throws, a mid-range jumper and then split a pair from the charity stripe to cut its deficit to 68-65 with 2:08 to play. After a Crusader miss, the Grizzlies came down and got a tough baseline runner from Travis Bader to make it a one-point game with 1:22 remaining.
Valpo misfired on a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down on its next trip, and Duke Mondy got inside for a layup for the Golden Grizzlies with 20 seconds left to put them ahead 69-68. After a Valpo miss, Mondy split his second attempt at a one-and-one from the foul line, with the Crusaders grabbing the rebound down two with nine seconds left. But the last-ditch 3-pointer was off the mark to close the ballgame.
The first half saw the Crusaders lead early on, owning as much as a four-point advantage after a Dority dunk. But Oakland used a 9-0 run to take control, and led by as many as eight points in the opening stanza. The Crusaders moved back to within two at 34-32 at halftime, however, scoring eight of the final ten points, including a 3-pointer from Capobianco and three free throws by Dority. Valpo actually tied the game early in the second half on a basket by senior Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport), but Oakland scored 10 points on its next four possessions to go ahead by double figures.
Dority led a balanced scoring effort for Valpo with 14 points, but was just 5-of-14 from the floor. Boggs and Van Wijk added 11 points apiece, the former doing it on perfect 5-of-5 shooting, while Broekhoff posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Capobianco chipped in nine points and nine rebounds as well in the losing effort. The Crusaders shot better than 50% from the field (27-of-53), but were just 7-of-23 from the 3-point line and were plagued by 19 turnovers.
Oakland (4-7) also placed four players in double figures, as Bader, Ryan Bass and Mondy all tied for team-high honors with 16 points. Corey Petros added 12 points as well. The Grizzlies shot just 38.3% (23-of-60) from the field, but were awarded 25 free throws to the Crusaders’ 10.
Valparaiso (7-4) returns home for its final two games before the Christmas holiday, starting with a Thursday night matchup against IUPUI at the ARC. Tipoff is slated for 7:05 p.m., and as always, all the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, with a live video stream available as well through the Horizon League Network. The links for the live audio and video, as well as live stats, will also be available at ValpoAthletics.com. ValpoGameday.com will also be up and running, with live video, stats and an interactive chat conveniently together on one page.