The run came later than it did in any of the first three games of the year for the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team, but it was an emphatic spurt, as the Crusaders outscored Southeastern Louisiana 41-12 over the game’s final 13 minutes to pull away for an 83-50 victory over the Lions Sunday afternoon at the ARC.
How It Happened
- Southeastern Louisiana scored the game’s first six points, as Valpo’s first bucket didn’t come until nearly three minutes in on a jumper from redshirt junior Joe Burton (Porter, Texas/Atascocita [Oklahoma State]), who accounted for the Crusaders’ first five points.
- Valpo took the lead for good approaching the midway point of the first half on a driving layup from senior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College). The advantage was still just two points at 18-16 before back-to-back 3-pointers in a span of 46 seconds from sophomore John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) pushed the lead to eight points with 3:14 to go in the half.
- A putback from redshirt sophomore Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) on the Crusaders’ last offensive possession of the first half gave Valpo a 32-22 lead going into the locker room.
- The Crusaders led by as many as 12 points early in the second half, and following a triple by Burton, the advantage was 42-31 with 16:17 remaining. But Valpo would go scoreless for the next three-plus minutes, as the Lions closed to within four points at 42-38 as the clock ticked under 13 minutes to go.
- A big second-chance basket from redshirt sophomore Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) stemmed the tide, and Joseph found sophomore Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) for a layup inside on Valpo’s next possession to push the lead to eight points.
- Southeastern Louisiana was still within six points with 10 minutes to go before a quick 9-1 Crusader run over a two-minute stretch kick-started the big push to end the game from Valpo. The run started with Smits hitting Golder with a backdoor pass for a slam dunk, and Golder returned the favor on the next possession with a feed to Smits for a basket.
- Sophomore Micah Bradford (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) connected on a triple and added a pair of free throws after getting fouled on a rebound to push the lead to 57-43. The Lions got a pair of free throws of their own on their next time down the court, but Joseph hit Smits with an alley-oop to respond as the Crusaders put the game away late.
Inside the Game
- The victory improves Valpo to 4-0 on the season, for just the fourth time in the last 50 years. The 2015-16 team and the 1998-99 team both opened the year with wins in their first five games, while the 1986-87 squad started out 4-0.
- The blowout win increases the Crusaders’ streak of victories by at least 25 points to four straight games to open the year – prior to this season, Valpo hadn’t won more than two straight games to open the season by that much.
- The combination of the Crusaders’ offense and defense over the final quarter of the game proved lethal. Valpo limited Southeastern Louisiana to just one field goal over the final 11:30 of the game, while on the offensive end, the Crusaders scored on 16 of their final 20 possessions.
- All 12 Crusaders played on Sunday, with 11 cracking the scoring column. 10 different players saw at least 13 minutes of action.
- Burton led all players on Sunday with 18 points, hitting all six of his field goal attempts inside the arc in an 8-of-11 shooting performance.
- Redshirt sophomore Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) scored 14 points for the second straight game and also handed out a game-high four assists.
- Smits went a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor in a 12-point, six-rebound, three-assist performance. The sophomore is now 17-for-22 in Valpo’s first four games of the season from the field.
- Valpo scored 27 points on Sunday off of 21 turnovers by the Lions – the third straight game the Crusaders have forced at least 20 turnovers. Through four games, Valpo is forcing an average of 21 turnovers per game and has outscored its opposition off of turnovers, 110-26.
- Valpo limited Southeastern Louisiana to 17-for-52 (32.7%) shooting for the game, including a 1-for-15 performance from the 3-point line for a Lions squad which entered the game connecting at better than 40% from downtown this year.
Valpo (4-0) looks to keep rolling on Tuesday night at the ARC as the Crusaders continue play as part of the Savannah Invitational by hosting Samford at 7 p.m. The game can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN3, with links for all the live coverage available via ValpoAthletics.com.