The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team picked up its 20th win of the season in dominating fashion on Thursday evening at the ARC, never trailing and leading by 20 at the half in an eventual 78-57 victory over Cleveland State.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders got off to a quick start from downtown on Thursday night, hitting five of their first six 3-point attempts over the opening seven-plus minutes. Seniors Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) and Shane Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands/Oakley College [LSU]) each accounted for two triples, while freshman Micah Bradford (Bradley, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) hit one as well.
- With the lead sitting at 21-15 just over nine minutes into the game, Valpo reeled off an 11-0 run over a span of 4:42 to push the advantage to 17 points. Junior Lexus Williams (Chicago, Ill./Marist) and freshman Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) combined for nine points during the run, while the Crusader defense held CSU to 0-of-4 shooting and three turnovers in that span.
- Valpo would eventually score the final six points of the first half, capped by a deep jumper from Williams with the shot clock winding down, to take a 44-24 lead into the locker room.
- The closest the Vikings would get in the second half came at the 13:02 mark, after a 3-pointer made it a 52-37 ballgame. But the Crusaders responded with 13 straight points over the next five minutes to put away the game.
- Freshman Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) led the way offensively during the run with six points, while Peters had a big two-handed slam and Hammink converted an acrobatic 3-point play at the rim on the fast break. Defensively, the Crusaders forced six CSU misses during the run, while the Vikings also committed three turnovers.
Inside the Game
- The win was Valpo’s 20th of the season, making the 2016-17 squad the 20th team in program history to reach the 20-win milestone.
- The last 24 seasons have seen the Crusaders finish with 20 or more wins 16 times.
- Five different Crusaders scored at least nine points in a balanced effort on Thursday.
- Leading the way was Hammink, who finished 6-of-11 from the field for 15 points. The senior also handed out four assists.
- Sorolla matched his career best with 12 points, hitting on 5-of-7 from the floor. He also pulled down eight rebounds and set a new career high with three assists.
- Peters added 12 points as well and also ripped down 14 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the season.
- The senior moved up into seventh place on Valpo’s single-season scoring chart (579 points) and also cracked the single-season top-10 in rebounding (272 rebounds).
- Smits finished one point shy of his high in a Valpo uniform, also going 5-of-7 for 10 points. The freshman, who had tallied just eight assists in the Crusaders’ first 11 Horizon League games, dished out a game-high five helpers on Thursday.
- Williams added nine points as well, missing on just one of his five field goal attempts while also tallying a pair of steals.
- The Crusaders shot better than 50% from the floor for the fifth time this season, finishing 32-of-62 (51.6%). Valpo was especially efficient inside the arc, hitting 62.5% (25-of-40) of its two-point attempts.
- Valpo also handed out 22 assists on its 32 baskets, just one helper shy of the team’s single-game high this season. The Crusaders tallied the 22 assists against just nine turnovers – their best single-game assist-to-turnover ratio of the year.
- Cleveland State (7-18, 3-10 Horizon) was led by 15 points from Rob Edwards, but the sophomore finished just 5-of-14 from the field. As a team, the Crusaders limited the Vikings to 37.1% shooting, including just a 4-for-19 mark from 3-point range.
The Crusaders (20-5, 10-2) look to close out a winning weekend at the ARC on Saturday night as they host Youngstown State at 7 p.m. Saturday is Hall of Fame Night, as the three inductees in the Valparaiso University Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2017 – including former men’s basketball standout Lubos Barton – will be recognized at halftime.
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.