The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team came out on the right side of a hard-fought battle at the ARC Tuesday evening, earning a 67-61 victory over Milwaukee on Senior Night. The Crusaders’ five seniors were honored prior to the game and addressed the fans following the victory.
How It Happened
- The two sides traded baskets in the early going, with Milwaukee taking a 10-8 lead just over five minutes in on a Brock Stull 3-pointer.
- Junior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) answered with a 3-pointer of his own on Valpo’s next possession, starting a 10-2 Crusader run over the next three minutes. Senior Alec Peters (Washington, Ill./Washington) scored the other seven points during the run, capping it with a triple with 11:28 to play in the half to give Valpo an 18-12 lead.
- The Crusader lead was still six points at 23-17 with 6:54 to go in the half before the Panthers rattled off an 8-2 spurt over a two-minute stretch to tie the game at 25-all.
- Tied at 27 with 3:54 to play in the first half, the Crusaders would score the final two baskets of the period on layups from Peters and senior Shane Hammink (Millingen aan de Rijn, Netherlands/Oakley College [LSU]) to take a 31-27 halftime lead.
- Milwaukee scored the first two baskets of the second half to tie the game yet again, and after Valpo pushed its advantage to five points, the Panthers scored the next seven points to take the lead.
- The Panther advantage was 39-38 with 13:27 to play before the Crusaders scored the next six over the next two and a half minutes. Junior Lexus Williams (Chicago, Ill./Marist) converted a fast-break layup, while junior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) hit a pair of jumpers during the mini-spurt.
- The spurt gave Valpo the lead for good, and the Crusaders would answer immediately when threatened multiple times. With a tenuous one-point lead as the clock ticked under 10 minutes, the Crusaders ran a set play on an inbounds to get Peters a 3-pointer.to push the lead to four points.
- A Stull triple brought Milwaukee within 49-46 with 7:59 to play, but Valpo’s next possession saw Peters find Walker for an old-fashioned 3-point play to again make it a six-point lead.
- Finally, back-to-back baskets by the Panthers cut Valpo’s lead to 56-53 with 3:20 remaining, but again the Crusaders got Peters a 3-point look and again he drilled it to push the lead to six.
- Valpo then forced a turnover on the defensive end and followed with a third-chance basket offensively, as Joseph came flying down the lane for a putback to make it 61-53 Crusaders. Valpo pushed its lead up to 11 points down the stretch, and Milwaukee would only be able to pull as close as five in the waning seconds.
Inside the Game
- Valpo improved to 24-2 in the last 26 seasons on Senior Night.
- Valpo honored its five-player senior class, consisting of Peters, Hammink, Jubril Adekoya (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew), Nick Davidson (Munster, Ind./Andrean) and Jason Karys (Newton, Mass./South). Peters, Hammink and Davidson all started on Tuesday – the start marking Davidson’s first of the year.
- Peters led all players with 23 points, including four 3-pointers, in 33 minutes of action. He passed Dick Jones’ 1966-67 season and now sits third in a single season in Crusader history with 666 points on the year.
- Walker and Joseph added nine points apiece as well, while Hammink chipped in eight points. Joseph also tied for team-high honors with six rebounds while going 3-for-4 from the field, and Walker scored all nine of his points in the second half.
- Davidson scored four points in the opening minutes and also pulled down a rebound and handed out an assist in 10 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Karys entered in the final minute and knocked down a free throw for the game’s final point.
- The Crusaders hit at a 51% (26-for-51) clip from the field for the game and handed out 15 assists on their 26 baskets. Peters, Hammink and Williams all dished out three assists apiece – the latter two doing so without committing a turnover.
- Valpo converted seven offensive rebounds into 11 points, while the Panthers did not score a second-chance point on five offensive boards.
- Milwaukee (8-21, 4-12 Horizon) was led by 22 points from Stull, who was 6-for-7 from 3-point range for the game. The Panthers matched the Crusaders by hitting 51% from the floor, but were just 4-of-9 from the foul line.
The Crusaders (23-6, 13-3 Horizon) look to secure at least a share of its fifth Horizon League title in the last six seasons on Friday night as they travel to Wright State for a 6:30 p.m. CT tipoff. 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.