The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team rallied from a double-digit deficit late in the first half to take the lead early in the second half Sunday afternoon at the ARC against Loyola, but the Ramblers responded with a 16-1 run to take control as the Crusaders fell by a 70-54 final in Missouri Valley Conference action.
How It Happened
- The lead bounced back and forth a number of times early on as both teams fought to seize control of a defensive battle in the first half. Sophomore Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) scored Valpo’s first six points to stake the Crusaders to an early advantage.
- A six-point spurt from Loyola gave it a 12-8 lead eight minutes into the game before the Crusaders answered with a 7-2 stretch. An inside basket from senior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) capped that span and gave the Crusaders a 15-14 lead with 7:12 to play in the opening half.
- The Ramblers scored the next nine points in a span of 2:30 to push its lead out to eight points, and made it a double-figure advantage at 27-17 with 2:42 to play in the half on a jumper from Donte Ingram.
- Valpo would go into halftime trailing by just four, however, as Walker drove for a baseline dunk and Smits scored the final four points of the half to make it a 27-23 game at intermission.
- The Crusaders continued the run out of halftime, getting a tip-in from Walker and a layup by Smits within the first 90 seconds of the half to tie the game at 27 apiece.
- Loyola scored on each of its next two possessions, but the Crusaders responded with a Walker 3-pointer and an inside basket by sophomore Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) to pull ahead 32-31 with 16:07 to play.
- The Ramblers scored on six of their next seven possessions over a four-minute span as they went on a 16-1 run to go ahead 47-33 before Evelyn snapped the run with a 3-pointer with 11:39 to go.
- Valpo had one final push, closing to within seven as Evelyn scored on back-to-back possessions to make it a 52-45 game with 7:15 to go. But the Ramblers came down and made shots on either side of a Crusader miss on the front end of a one-and-one to push the lead back to 11 points, and Valpo would get no closer than nine the rest of the way.
Inside the Game
- After shooting under 40% in the first half, both teams shot at better than a 50% clip in the second half. While the Crusaders were 12-of-22 from the field in the final 20 minutes, the Ramblers connected on 16-of-27 in the second period – including four 3-pointers.
- Evelyn scored 17 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, as he went 7-of-9 from the floor over the final 20 minutes and also came up with three steals.
- Walker and Smits each finished with 14 points as well, the latter matching his career high in the process as he went 4-of-6 from the field and 6-of-8 from the foul line.
- Smits also tied for team-high honors with six rebounds, matched by sophomore John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) in his return to action. The Crusaders lost the battle of the boards to Loyola by a 34-27 margin.
- Valpo tallied just six assists on Sunday and committed 13 turnovers, while Loyola (16-4, 6-2 MVC) – which maintained a share of first place in the MVC standings with its win – recorded 16 assists against just eight turnovers.
- The Ramblers were paced by the play of Clayton Custer, who finished with 18 points, five assists and four steals.
Valpo (11-10, 2-6 MVC) returns to action on Wednesday night at the ARC against in-state foe Evansville. Tip is set for 7 p.m., and all the action can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN3 and heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for the live coverage will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.