Sophomore Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) set a new career high on Sunday morning, pouring in 31 points, including 22 in the first half, as Valparaiso rolled to a 93-70 win over Maine in its finale at the Central Michigan Tournament. Peters and senior Vashil Fernandez (Kingston, Jamaica/Princeton Day [Md.] Academy) represented the Crusaders on the All-Tournament Team.
Peters dominated from the get-go on Sunday en route to his new career best, scoring eight points in the first three minutes of the game. At the break, the sophomore had 22 points – the most points in a half since Lavonte Dority poured in 22 in the first half at UIC last season – on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 9-of-10 from the foul line. Peters then added three 3-pointers in the second half, the last of which put him over his previous career best of 30. Peters finished with 31 points on 9-of-13 shooting in just 21 minutes of action and added six rebounds as well.
Meanwhile, Fernandez enjoyed another stellar game, finishing with six points, six rebounds and six blocked shots. The six rejections is the second-most in a game for Fernandez over his three years as a Crusader, coming just two days after he swatted five shots against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The senior also set a new career high with four steals, leading a Valpo defensive effort which tallied 14 thefts, its most in a game since Dec. 22, 2012.
Peters’ quick start helped spark an early Crusader run which gave them a lead they would never come close to losing. The sophomore had eight of Valpo’s first ten points, and a triple from freshman Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) made it 13-2 just 3:16 into the game. After an empty trip, Fernandez came up with an offensive rebound and slam, followed by a steal and fast-break layup from junior Keith Carter (Maywood, Ill./Proviso East [Saint Louis]) to make it 17-2 Crusaders with 15:38 left in the first half.
Maine would put together one rally, closing to within eight points at 24-16 with 11:11 left in the opening period, but the Crusaders promptly scored on five of their next six possessions. Four different Valpo players made baskets in that stretch, capped by a triple from junior Darien Walker (Chicago, Ill./Simeon [John A. Logan/Arizona Western]) which made it 34-19 at the 8:32 mark. The lead reached 20 points for the first time on a mid-range jumper from Peters with 4:20 left in the half, and eventually Valpo would score the last seven points of the half, capped by a driving layup by Carter just before the horn, to go into the break with a 53-28 lead.
Valpo never let the Black Bears get any closer than 22 points in the second half, and the lead reached 30 for the first time on the second of back-to-back triples by sophomore Nick Davidson (Munster, Ind./Andrean) with 15:07 remaining. Peters’ third 3-pointer of the half, the one which finished out his 31-point night, came with 12:34 to play, and on the Crusaders’ next possession, Tevonn Walker finished an old-fashioned 3-point play as the Valpo lead reached its peak at 75-42. The result was academic from that point as the Crusaders closed out the perfect weekend.
Three Crusaders joined Peters in double figures on Sunday morning. Tevonn Walker matched his season best with 16 points, going 6-of-10 from the field in just 17 minutes of action. Darien Walker added 11 points in 21 minutes, while freshman David Skara (Zadar, Croatia/Ekonomska Skola Zadar) knocked down four of his five shots in the second half for ten points. Valpo shot 53.3% (32-of-60) from the field on Sunday and were 12-of-21 from beyond the 3-point line – its third game with at least ten 3-point makes this season. Carter and junior E. Victor Nickerson (Atlanta, Ga./Norcross [Charlotte]) paced the Crusaders with four assists apiece.
Maine (0-4) also placed four players in double digits, paced by 16 points from Shaun Lawton, while Kevin Little added 15 points. The Crusaders forced 23 turnovers from the Black Bears and scored 32 points off those miscues.
Valparaiso (4-1) returns to action after the Thanksgiving holiday, traveling to Nashville, Tenn. to take part in the Challenge in Music City next weekend. The three-day event begins Friday against Drake at 5 p.m. All the action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, with links for live audio and stats available for all of the weekend’s games at ValpoAthletics.com.