Valparaiso trailed nearly start-to-finish on Wednesday evening in Youngstown, Ohio, as its six-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of Youngstown State, 80-68.
The Penguins scored the game’s first two baskets and held the Crusaders off the board until more than three minutes had elapsed, when senior Kevin Van Wijk (Hoofddorp, Netherlands/Katholieke Scholengemeenschap Hoofddorp) converted an inside basket. Fifth-year senior Will Bogan (Boise, Idaho/Vallivue [Ole Miss]) came up with a fast-break bucket off a YSU miss to briefly tie the game at four 3:39 in, but that would be the only time the Crusaders could tie the game.
Youngstown State reeled off eight straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Kendrick Perry, to take control early and pushed its lead out to double figures at 19-9 just 9:26 into the ballgame. Trailing by 12 with 10 minutes left in the first half, the Crusaders pieced together a 9-2 run over the next four minutes, capped by back-to-back driving layups from senior Ben Boggs (Roanoke, Va./Hidden Valley [Virginia Tech]) to cut the deficit to 23-18 with six minutes left in the half.
The lead fluctuated between five and eight points for most of the remainder of the half, but Youngstown State would make a 7-2 push in the final minute to take a double-digit lead into the locker room. Shawn Amiker converted a basket while being fouled with 55 seconds left in the half, and while he missed the free throw, Kamren Belin claimed the offensive board and put it back up and in. Boggs answered with two free throws for the Crusaders on a second-chance opportunity, but Perry made it 39-28 Penguins at the break by converting a 3-point play on an 18-foot jump shot with less than two seconds to play.
The Crusaders made it a nine-point game a number of times early in the second half, but couldn’t cut into the deficit any further. Youngstown State pushed its lead to 17 points at 63-46 with eight minutes to go before one final Valpo run, as five different players scored in a 9-2 spurt which brought the Crusaders to within 65-55 with 5:33 remaining. But off a miss, the Penguins claimed an offensive rebound and Belin canned a triple to thwart the Valpo comeback effort, and it would be no closer than a 10-point game the rest of the way.
Van Wijk led four Crusaders in double figures Wednesday with 14 points. Junior LaVonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) added 13 off the bench, while seniors Erik Buggs (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) and Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport) chipped in 10 points apiece. Valpo shot just 41.1% (23-of-56) for the game, including just 3-of-20 (15%) from behind the 3-point line, and was just 19-of-31 (61.3%) from the free throw line.
Perry led all players with 28 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor and 8-of-11 from the free throw line, adding 11 rebounds for a double-double. Belin scored 16 and Damian Eargle 11 as well for Youngstown State (13-8, 5-3 Horizon).
Valparaiso (16-6, 6-2 Horizon) faces a quick turnaround back home for a Friday evening game with Milwaukee at 7:05 p.m. from the ARC. As always, the game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and seen online on the Horizon League Network. Links for the live audio and video, as well as live stats, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com, while ValpoGameday.com will be your one-stop shop for live video, stats and interactive chat on the same page.