The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team got a lift from some unexpected sources Thursday night, as a lineup that had not played together all season long scored seven straight points to end the first half - keying a 14-0 run spanning halftime as the Crusaders went on to win at Youngstown State, 78-62. With his first basket of the game, senior Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) assumed sole possession of the top spot on Valpo’s career field goals made chart.
How It Happened
- Valpo dominated in the paint early on, scoring 10 of its first 12 points at the rim and taking full advantage of its size advantage inside. But the Penguins hit five 3-pointers in the first 13 minutes to stay close, the last of which tied the game at 24-24.
- Back-to-back baskets from freshman Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) and Peters gave Valpo the lead for good, and the Crusaders held a slim 34-30 edge going into the final media timeout of the first half.
- With a number of players having picked up two fouls , the Crusaders came out of the stoppage with a lineup of Peters, senior Nick Davidson (Munster, Ind./Andrean), and three freshmen – Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville), Micah Bradford (Bradley, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) and John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville).
- The quintet played the final 3:01 of the first half, keeping the Penguins scoreless (0-3 FG, 0-2 FT, one turnover) while scoring seven points – four from Peters and a 3-pointer by Davidson. The seven-point spurt gave the Crusaders a 41-30 advantage at halftime.
- Coming out of halftime, Valpo scored seven more in a row to pull out to a significant lead – five of which came courtesy of senior Shane Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands/Oakley College [LSU]). By the time the 14-0 run spanning the halftime break concluded, the Crusaders lead 48-30 with 18:01 to play.
- The Penguins got no closer than 13 points the rest of the way, with back-to-back 3-pointers from junior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) and Peters providing the daggers with 8:02 and 7:29 remaining, respectively.
Inside the Game
- Peters made a mid-range jumper 4:27 into the game to break a tie with Bryce Drew atop Valpo’s career field goals made chart. The senior now has made 702 baskets in a Crusader uniform.
- Playing a season-low 31 minutes, Peters paced Valpo with 17 points and a career-high tying 15 rebounds in the win. He now sits just 56 points and 24 rebounds shy of the Crusaders’ all-time records in those categories.
- Four players in all scored in double figures in Thursday’s win. Hammink needed just 20 minutes to score 15 points, while Walker tallied 12 points – nine of which came in the first half. Meanwhile, Sorolla set a new scoring high for the second time in the last three games, recording 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting while also grabbing six rebounds.
- Peters was the only Valpo player to play more than 23 minutes in the victory, as head coach Matt Lottich made judicious use of a bench which contributed 29 points. Bradford made his first career start and played 21 minutes, while Kiser and Davidson played 15 and 14 minutes, respectively, as the Crusaders ran out a 10-man rotation.
- 11 of the 12 Crusaders who saw action scored on Thursday. Kiser tallied four points to go with five rebounds and two assists, while junior Chandler Levingston Simon (Vernon Hills, Ill./Stevenson [UMKC]) scored his first basket of the season in the final minute.
- The Crusaders dominated the Penguins on the glass, out-rebounding YSU by a 46-24 margin – led by Peters’ 15 rebounds and six boards apiece from Sorolla and Smits. Valpo grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and scored 12 second-chance points while limiting YSU to just two second-chance points.
- Cameron Morse led Youngstown State (8-10, 2-3 Horizon) with 18 points, but Matt Donlan (10 points) was the only other Penguin in double figures. After hitting five of their first eight 3-point attempts, YSU went just 1-for-12 from 3-point range the rest of the way.
The Crusaders (13-4, 3-1 Horizon) conclude their swing through northeast Ohio Saturday afternoon as they play at Cleveland State. Tipoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. CT, and as always, the game can be seen live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app, and heard live on the Valpo Sports Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WVLP, 103.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for the live coverage will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.