Valparaiso made just one field goal over the final 16 minutes of the first half Saturday at Cleveland State, an offensive malaise the Crusaders could not overcome in a 69-50 loss to the Vikings in Cleveland.
The game started well offensively for the Crusaders, as senior guard Lavonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) knocked down a triple on Valpo’s first possession. Dority would end up with eight points by the first media timeout, hitting a tough baseline jumper as well as another 3-pointer, while freshman Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) also had a putback basket early as Valpo led 10-5 at the first stoppage.
But Dority’s second triple, which came with 15:58 left in the opening period, ended up being the next-to-last field goal for the Crusaders of the first half. After going over 11 minutes without a basket, senior Jordan Coleman (North Hollywood, Calif./Calabasas [Southwestern Illinois College/Hawai’i]) hit a 3-pointer with 4:22 to play in the half, the basket which would end up being Valpo’s final of the period as the Crusaders shot just 5-of-24 (20.8%) in the first half. Cleveland State put together a 24-6 run between Valpo field goals and would take a 31-20 lead into the locker room.
Any thoughts Valpo had of erasing a sizable halftime deficit for the second straight game were put to rest early in the second half, as CSU scored the first three baskets after halftime to extend its lead to 17 points. The first basket after the break came at the 16:34 mark on a layup from freshman Clay Yeo (Bourbon, Ind./Triton), as the Crusaders had a stretch of 19:24 spanning both halves where they scored just one basket from the floor. Valpo would put together a mini-spurt midway through the half, a 6-0 run capped by a triple from Peters, to cut a 20-point deficit to 14, but the Vikings answered with back-to-back baskets to keep the Crusaders at arm’s length.
Dority and Peters tied for game-high honors for Valpo with 10 points each, while Yeo added eight points off the bench. Freshman Jubril Adekoya (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) led the Crusaders with seven rebounds as CSU matched Valpo on the glass, 31-31 – just the second time in league play the Crusaders have not held the advantage on the boards. Valpo bounced back offensively in the second half, shooting 11-of-21, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range.
Cleveland State (13-9, 5-3 Horizon) showcased great balance offensively on Saturday afternoon, as five Vikings ended the game in double figures. Trey Lewis led the way with 17 points and also dished out four assists, while Anton Grady posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Marlin Mason and Bryn Forbes scored 12 points apiece and Jon Harris added 11 off the bench as well.
Valparaiso (12-10, 4-3 Horizon) will look to bounce back in its final game of the first half of league play on Wednesday evening from the ARC, as the Crusaders host league-leading Green Bay at 7:05 p.m. Prior to the game, Valpo will host the jersey retirement ceremony for the #24, in honor of Bruce Lindner and Bryce Drew. 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.