The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team got back to basics Sunday afternoon at Detroit Mercy, taking advantage of a size advantage across the board to pound the Titans inside en route to an 83-63 victory.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders needed less than two minutes to take an early 6-0 lead, as junior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) knocked down an early 3-pointer and senior Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) completed an old-fashioned 3-point play.
- Valpo’s lead would remain right around either side of five points for most of the first 10 minutes, until a 7-1 spurt by the Titans gave them their lone lead, 19-18 with 9:45 to play in the half.
- After a stretch of over two minutes with neither team scoring, the Crusaders scored on three straight possessions around the under-eight media timeout to take the lead for good. Junior Lexus Williams (Chicago, Ill./Marist) had a pair of baskets, sandwiching a finish at the rim from Walker.
- With the Crusaders’ advantage at two points in the late stages of the first half, Valpo would score the final six points of the half to take a 37-29 lead into the locker room. Junior Shane Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands/Oakley College [LSU]) capped the spurt with a 3-pointer, while freshman John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) had a blocked shot and forced a tough shot in the final seconds on the defensive end.
- Freshman Micah Bradford (Bradley, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) had a highlight reel effort to end the half, launching a shot from the opposite 3-point line which bounced off the shot clock straight up into the air, came down and hit the rim before falling through the basket. However, since the shot clock is considered out of bounds, the shot was waved off and didn’t count.
- The Crusaders went to work on the offensive boards to start the second half, grabbing nine offensive rebounds in the first seven-plus minutes of the half and converting them into 11 second-chance points.
- Leading by nine at 42-33 two minutes into the half, the Crusaders went on a 14-3 run over the next 4:45 to push their lead to 20 points. Five different players scored during the run, which was capped by a third-chance basket from junior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College).
- A 3-pointer from Corey Allen briefly quelled the momentum, but the Crusaders gained it right back, out-scoring Detroit Mercy 11-2 over the next three minutes to put the game away. Again, five different players contributed to the scoring column during the spurt, and Peters put the final nail in the coffin with a 3-pointer with 10:10 to play to make it 67-41.
- Bradford had one more highlight in him, this one an effort which would count, as he drove the ball down the middle of the court to break the Titan press and slammed it home with one hand with 4:59 to play to put the exclamation point on the win. It was the first dunk of the freshman’s career.
Inside the Game
- With the win, the Crusaders improved to 17-0 in the last three seasons in games following a loss. Valpo has won 11 of those 17 games by double figures, including eight victories by at least 20 points.
- Peters moved into third place in Horizon League history in career scoring in the win, surpassing former league standouts Rashad Phillips (Detroit Mercy) and Chad Tucker (Butler) midway through the second half. He has now scored 2,325 career points.
- Valpo dominated the Titans in the paint, out-scoring Detroit Mercy 42-18 in that category. The 42 points in the paint was the Crusaders’ second-highest output of the season in the category versus D-I opposition and was the fourth time they have scored at least 40 in league play.
- The Crusaders also forced 15 Titan turnovers and turned them into 18 points off turnovers. Meanwhile, Valpo committed just eight turnovers – including just three miscues in the game’s final 30 minutes.
- Valpo got out on the break against the Detroit Mercy pressure, scoring 14 fast-break points. The Crusaders also hit the boards hard, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds for the game and scoring 18 second-chance points.
- Peters paced Valpo in the scoring column, finishing with 20 points for his 22nd game of 20 or more points on the year. The senior went 8-of-16 from the floor and played just 26 minutes in the win.
- Hammink went 6-of-10 from the field for 15 points and also blocked a pair of shots as the Crusaders totaled six team blocks in the win.
- Walker bounced back from a rough outing Friday for his third double-double of the season, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
- Freshman Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville), who came off the bench for the first time in Horizon League play, finished with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting.
- Bradford, who was moved out of the starting lineup for the first time since the first weekend of January, handed out a career-high four assists and also recorded a pair of steals.
- 10 of the 12 Crusaders who saw action scored on Sunday, while 11 of the 12 recorded at least one rebound and eight of 12 handed out at least one assist.
- Patrick Robinson led Detroit Mercy (6-21, 4-11 Horizon) with 14 points, while Jaleel Hogan added 12 points and seven rebounds. The Titans shot just 34.5% from the floor.
The Crusaders (22-6, 12-3 Horizon) maintained their one-game lead in the Horizon League standings with the win and return home for the regular season home finale on Tuesday evening at the ARC. It will be Senior Night at the ARC, as – along with senior team managers, band members, cheerleaders and Crusaderettes – Peters, Hammink, Jubril Adekoya, Nick Davidson and Jason Karys will be honored in a pregame ceremony.
Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., but be sure to arrive early to catch the Senior Night ceremony. 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.