Trailing nearly the entire game, Valparaiso fought back to tie Saturday night’s game at the ARC with Saint Louis on a LaVonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) layup with 3.8 seconds to play, but the Billikens got a put-back basket from Mike McCall Jr. just before the buzzer to come out with the 67-65 victory.
A 3-pointer by freshman Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) with 17 seconds remaining brought the Crusaders to within one point at 64-63, and on the inbounds, Valpo fouled Dwayne Evans. Evans hit the first free throw, but missed the second, and Peters grabbed the rebound and got it to Dority. Dority brought the ball into the frontcourt and drove down the left side of the lane, finishing in traffic with 3.8 seconds to go to tie the game at 65-all, the first tie since the opening minute.
Following a timeout, the Billikens inbounded the ball past the halfcourt stripe, where Rob Loe caught it and drove to the basket. His layup attempt was blocked off the backboard, but the ricochet went directly to a cutting McCall in the middle of the lane. McCall’s put-back was called good on the court and confirmed following video review to give the victory to Saint Louis.
The Crusaders fought back to tie the game after trailing by nine points at 62-53 with 5:45 to play. Valpo would hold SLU scoreless for over a five-minute stretch to crawl back into the game, getting back-to-back baskets from Dority to make it 62-57 with 4:21 to go. A minute later, the Crusaders split a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game.
The clock ticked under one minute with the score still 62-58, and it remained that way as SLU’s Jordair Jett missed the front end of a pair of one-and-ones. Jordan Coleman (North Hollywood, Calif./Calabasas [Southwestern Ill. College/Hawai'i]) connected on a pair of free throws following the second miss, bringing Valpo within two points with 29 seconds to play, but Evans answered with a pair of his own to set up the closing sequence.
A slow start for the Crusaders meant they would play from behind the entire game, as Saint Louis jumped out to a 15-3 lead just five minutes into the contest. Valpo had seven turnovers in the opening stretch and hit just one basket. But the Crusaders quickly rallied, scoring 10 straight points over the next five minutes, five of which came from Jubril Adekoya (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew), to close within two points at 15-13 halfway through the opening period.
Saint Louis maintained its lead, pushing it out to as many as 10 points over the final 10 minutes of the half and eventually taking a 39-30 lead into halftime. A 3-pointer from Austin McBroom with 13:26 to go matched SLU’s largest lead at 52-40, but an 11-3 Crusader run over the next five-plus minutes brought Valpo to within 55-51.
Dority led the Crusaders on Saturday with 21 points, 15 of which came in the second half. Bobby Capobianco (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland [Indiana]) joined Dority in double figures with 14 points and added eight rebounds as well. Moussa Gueye (Thies, Senegal/SEED Academy [Alabama/Lake Land (Ill.) College]) pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds and also blocked four shots as the Crusaders out-rebounded Saint Louis, 53-31. Valpo shot just 37.9% from the floor and was just 4-of-14 behind the 3-point line.
Saint Louis (8-2) got 21 points from Evans, while Grandy Glaze scored 14 and Jett added 10 points. Evans also tallied 10 rebounds in posting a double-double, while Jett was one assist shy of a double-double of his own with nine helpers.
Valparaiso (6-5) has seven days to recover before its next game, a matinee at the ARC next Saturday afternoon against Loyola Marymount. Tipoff is slated for 1:05 p.m., and as always, the game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and seen live on the Horizon League Network. Links for the live audio and video, as well as live stats, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.