The Valparaiso men’s basketball team opened its season with a 60-52 win in its exhibition game versus Grand Valley State on Thursday night.
Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) led all scorers with 17 points in his first appearance as a sophomore. Newcomer Darien Walker (Chicago, Ill./Simeon [John A. Logan/Arizona Western]) pitched in 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field in his Crusader debut.
“We made the stops we needed to against a very good team tonight,” head coach Bryce Drew said after the game.
Points came at a premium in the first twenty minutes at the Athletics-Recreation Center. It remained a one-possession game for nearly the first 15 minutes. Grand Valley State’s Luke Ryskamp nailed a three-pointer with 5:28 left in the first half to put the Lakers on top 17-13.
The Crusaders responded with a Peters-fueled 8-0 run to seize a 21-17 advantage. During that four-minute span, Peters was responsible for five of the eight Crusader points, four of which came from the charity stripe.
A Brandon Barkley layup in the closing seconds of the half cut Valpo’s lead to 23-20 heading into the locker room.
Peters had eight at the break while freshman David Skara (Zadar, Croatia/Ekonomska Skola Zadar) chipped in six. Despite shooting just 1-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first half, the Crusaders converted on eight of their 12 free throw attempts.
Grand Valley State stuck with Valpo for much of the evening, trailing by as few as one point with eight minutes to play.
But Darien Walker put the Crusaders ahead for good after that.
Walker recorded the next seven Valpo points including a breakaway dunk that brought 2,078 fans to their feet.
By the time Walker’s run was complete, the Brown and Gold held a 46-40 advantage. The Lakers never got closer than two-possessions the rest of the way. Walker added a triple from the wing with two-and-a-half minutes left to provide the knockout blow.
Valparaiso shot considerably better from the floor in the second half. The Crusaders were 10-for-22 (45.5%) on field goals after halftime.
Skara ended the night with nine points and eight rebounds in 14 minutes of play.
Ryan Sabin tallied 11 points and 10 boards as the senior notched a double-double for Grand Valley State. Darren Kapustka added 13 points.
The Crusaders kick off their regular season next Friday, Nov. 14th when East Tennessee State comes to the ARC for a 7:30 pm tipoff. Links to the audio, video, and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.