The Valparaiso men’s basketball team remained perfect at home this season, winning its sixth straight home game as the Crusaders earned an 89-69 victory Thursday night over IUPUI at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
“We’ve had a really good last 48 hours with our team and got the chance to work on a lot of things,” said Crusader head coach Bryce Drew. “We really focused coming into tonight on playing extremely hard for the entire 40 minutes, and I thought our defensive pressure was the hardest we’ve played for the entire 40 minutes this season.”
Valpo placed a season-high five players in double figures Thursday, led by 17 points from senior Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport). Broekhoff also added a game-high nine rebounds, missing his second straight double-double by just one board, and also handed out four assists. Senior Matt Kenney (Mooresville, Ind./Mooresville), inserted into the starting lineup for the first time this season, responded with a 15-point effort, just one off his season high, and also led all players with six assists, just one shy of his career high in the category.
Senior Kevin Van Wijk (Hoofddorp, Netherlands/Katholieke Scholengemeenschap Hoofddorp) also tallied 15 points in a foul-plagued 19 minutes, including a perfect 5-of-5 effort from the floor. Senior Ben Boggs (Roanoke, Va./Hidden Valley [Virginia Tech]) chipped in a season-high 12 points, while redshirt junior Bobby Capobianco (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland [Indiana]) came off the bench with a 10-point, seven-rebound effort to round out the quintet in double figures.
A two-point Crusader lead at the break turned into a two-point IUPUI advantage less than a minute into the second half, as a fast-break jumper by Ian Chiles gave the Jaguars a 42-40 lead with 19:01 to play. But Valpo responded with a 15-2 run over the next four-plus minutes, as five different Crusaders took turns finding the basket to help push the lead to 55-44 with 14:46 to play.
A pair of free throws by the Jaguars would not slow down the Valpo momentum, as the Crusaders then rattled off 12 consecutive points in a span of just over three minutes to cap a 27-4 run, making it a 67-46 ballgame with 11:08 to play. Seven different players scored during the 27-4 stretch, led by seven points from Broekhoff and six by Boggs.
IUPUI would rally, however, as a fast-break layup by Kenney accounted for the only Crusader points over the next 5:39. During that stretch, the Jaguars put 15 points on the board, including eight from Greg Rice, and when Chiles hit a pair from the free throw line with 5:29 on the clock, Valpo’s lead was just 69-61.
The Crusaders did not break though, allowing IUPUI to get no closer. Junior LaVonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) hit a pair of free throws on Valpo’s next trip to push the lead back into double figures, starting a closing stretch in which the Crusaders scored on nine of their final 10 possessions. Broekhoff found Kenney for a layup on the break following a Jaguar turnover and then converted an old-fashioned 3-point play on the Crusaders’ next possession as Valpo scored seven straight to make it 76-61 with 4:02 to play, and IUPUI would get no closer than 13 the rest of the way.
Valpo hit exactly 50% (32-of-64) of its field goal attempts on Thursday, including 26 baskets in the paint, as it held a 52-22 advantage in points in the paint over the Jaguars. The Crusaders also were solid at the free throw line, knocking down 21-of-26 (80.8%). On the glass, Valpo owned a 41-21 edge, its fourth double-figure advantage in rebounds this season, and also handed out 18 assists versus just eight turnovers.
IUPUI (4-10) placed four starters in double figures, led by 18 points from John Hart. Donovan Gibbs added 11 points and seven rebounds, Rice 11 points and Chiles 10 points. The Jaguars were a perfect 14-of-14 from the foul line on the night.
Valparaiso (8-4) closes out the pre-Christmas slate Saturday afternoon with a 1:35 p.m. tip time against Purdue Calumet at the ARC. The game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and seen live on the Horizon League Network. Links for both, as well as live stats, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com, while ValpoGameday.com will be open, your one-stop shop for the live video, stats and interactive chat.