The Valparaiso men’s basketball team limited Ball State to just 26.2% shooting from the floor Wednesday evening as the Crusaders won in Muncie for the first time since 1967 with a 69-50 final. The win was the Crusaders’ first road victory of the season as well.
A slow start both ways saw the Crusaders extend a 9-6 lead seven minutes in with eight straight points over the next 3:30. Freshman Clay Yeo (Bourbon, Ind./Triton) scored baskets on back-to-back possessions, the second a fast-break finish, to start the run. Then two minutes later, fellow freshman Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) got a putback basket and rookie Lexus Williams (Chicago, Ill./Marist) followed on the next trip with a driving layup to make it 17-6 with 9:31 left in the first half.
The Cardinals responded with a 14-2 run over the next four-plus minutes to take the lead at 20-19 with 5:16 remaining in the opening period. A layup by Zavier Turner at the 8:12 mark was Ball State’s first in nearly seven minutes, while the run culminated with a Jesse Berry fast-break 3-pointer which put the Cardinals ahead for the first time.
While neither team would score for the next 90 seconds, it would be Valpo who closed the first half on a run to take the lead into the locker room. It started with a triple from Williams, followed on the next possession by another Peters second-chance bucket. Williams found freshman Jubril Adekoya (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) on the break for the first of consecutive baskets from Adekoya, the second of which made it an eight-point game. A 3-pointer by senior LaVonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) on the Crusaders’ final first-half possession capped the 12-0 run to end the half, as Valpo took a 31-20 lead into the locker room.
Ball State scored the first point of the second half on a free throw, but 10 points was as close as the Cardinals would get in the second half, as Dority hit a triple the first time Valpo had the ball. Williams had a pair of early second-half baskets to help push the lead to 17, while the lead hit 20 points for the first time on a driving layup from Yeo with 11 minutes to go and Valpo leading 49-29. The Crusaders’ lead eventually reached 21 (56-35) with 6:12 to go on a basket by Adekoya, and while Ball State scored the next seven points, Valpo would not allow the Cardinals to close the gap to less than 14 in the closing stretch.
A balanced effort on Wednesday was led by Dority, who finished with 16 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. Adekoya set a new career best with 12 points, hitting 5-of-6 from the floor, and also pulled down a game-high eight rebounds. Williams, Yeo and senior Jordan Coleman (North Hollywood, Calif./Calabasas [Southwestern Ill. College/Hawai'i]) all finished with nine points as well, the latter chipping in seven rebounds. Peters handed out a game-high four assists, while fifth-year senior Moussa Gueye (Thies, Senegal/SEED Academy [Alabama/Lake Land (Ill.) College]) blocked three shots. Valpo ended the night shooting 48.2% (27-of-56) from the floor, including a 59.1% mark in the second half, and out-rebounded the Cardinals, 44-37.
Ball State (2-5) got a team-best 11 points from Mark Alstork, while Jesse Berry added 10 points in the losing effort. The Crusaders limited Zavier Turner, the Cardinals’ leading scorer, to just nine points on 2-of-9 shooting and held Majok Majok, who entered the game averaging nearly a double-double, to just five points and five rebounds. Ball State shot just 14-of-52 (26.9%) from the floor for the game.
Valparaiso (6-4) returns home for a tough test on Saturday night as the Crusaders host Saint Louis 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 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.