The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team opened the 2016-17 season in victorious fashion Friday night at the ARC, taking down former conference rival Southern Utah by a 79-65 final. The Crusaders’ win was their 12th consecutive in home openers, 11 of which have come by double figures.
How It Happened
- Southern Utah jumped out to an early lead, as eight straight points from Texas Tech transfer Randy Onwuasor gave the Thunderbirds a 13-6 lead less than five minutes into the game.
- Valpo’s defense stepped up at that point, as the Crusaders held SUU without a field goal for over nine minutes. Valpo pieced together an 18-3 run over that stretch, which included seven points by freshman Micah Bradford (Bradley, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais), to go ahead by eight points.
- Senior Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) scored Valpo’s final 10 points of the first half, helping to keep the lead right around 10 points as the period came to a close. The Crusaders eventually took a 40-28 lead into the locker room.
- SUU would not make it easy on the Crusaders, scoring eight points on its first three possessions of the second half. Then, with Valpo’s lead sitting at 55-44 with 12:54 to play, the Thunderbirds went on a 9-0 run to close to within two points with 9:35 remaining.
- A 3-pointer by Race Parsons with 7:25 to go again cut the Crusader advantage to just two points, but from that point, SUU would make just one field goal the rest of the way. The Crusaders went on a 15-3 run to extend the lead back into double figures, including a key 3-point play by junior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) with 5:36 to go to extend a three-point advantage to six points.
Inside the Game
- Joseph set a new career high with 13 points off the bench in 26 minutes of action on Friday, surpassing his previous career best of nine points. He was a perfect 6-for-6 at the foul line and also grabbed six rebounds.
- Peters paced Valpo with 23 points, buoyed by a strong 13-for-14 performance at the free throw line. The senior also pulled down eight rebounds and handed out three assists.
- Senior Shane Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands/Oakley College [LSU]) was the third Crusader to score in double figures, finishing with 15 points to go with six rebounds and five assists – the latter mark matching his career high.
- Redshirt junior Lexus Williams (Chicago, Ill./Marist) knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in an eight-point performance, while senior Jubril Adekoya (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) finished with six points and a game-high nine rebounds.
- Valpo shot just 36.2% from the field for the game and was just 4-of-19 from 3-point range, but was stellar at the foul line, going 33-of-37 on free throws.
- Onwuasor led all players with 35 points for Southern Utah (0-1), but the rest of the Thunderbirds combined for just 30 points. Valpo out-scored SUU 22-0 in bench scoring and also enjoyed a 34-16 advantage in points in the paint.
The Crusaders (1-0) face a quick turnaround for their second game of the season, as they host Trinity Christian at the ARC Saturday night at 7 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app and heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for the live video, audio and stats can be found at ValpoAthletics.com.