The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team connected on 11 3-pointers Wednesday night at the ARC as the Crusaders welcomed Evansville in Missouri Valley Conference play, but it wouldn’t prove to be enough, as the Purple Aces came away with a 75-65 victory over the Crusaders.
How It Happened
- A 3-pointer from sophomore Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) on Valpo’s first possession kicked off a strong opening 10 minutes for the Crusaders.
- Six different Crusaders scored in the opening stretch, including a pair of triples from freshman Mileek McMillan (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville) and a highlight-reel alley-oop dunk by sophomore Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) as Valpo led 18-10 a quarter of the way into the contest.
- Evansville scored the next seven points, but an old-fashioned 3-point play from senior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) staved off the Purple Aces briefly, putting Valpo ahead 21-17 with under eight minutes to play in the half.
- The Purple Aces took the lead for good with a 13-0 run over the next four-plus minutes, scoring on six of eight possessions in the stretch while Valpo went 0-for-5 from the floor and committed two turnovers.
- Evansville led 38-30 at the half and scored the first basket of the second half to go ahead by double figures before McMillan’s third 3-pointer of the game kicked off an 8-2 run over the next five minutes as the Crusaders closed within four.
- Trailing 49-42 with 12 minutes to play, Walker hit a pair of free throws and then canned a 3-pointer in transition as Valpo moved within two points at the 11:24 mark.
- The Crusaders had two shots on their next possession which would have given them the lead, but neither would go for Valpo. Evansville went on a 14-3 run over the next six minutes which extended its advantage to 11 points, and the Crusaders were unable to get any closer than seven points in the late stages.
Inside the Game
- Valpo finished with at least 10 3-pointers for the fourth time this year, going 11-of-27 from distance, but was just 10-for-30 from inside the arc and 12-of-21 from the foul line.
- McMillan led the way from the 3-point line, hitting 4-of-5 from deep as he finished with a career-best 12 points. The freshman is the fourth different Crusader to connect on at least four 3-pointers in a single game on the season.
- McMillan was joined in double figures by Evelyn, who tallied a team-best 17 points and four assists, and Walker, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
- Golder and senior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) tied Walker for team-high honors in the rebounding column with six boards.
- The Crusaders blocked a season-high seven shots – led by three rejections from sophomore Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) – but Evansville still held a 30-16 advantage in points in the paint.
- The Purple Aces were just 2-of-5 from the 3-point line, but hit at a 93.5% clip from the foul line, going 29-of-31 from the charity stripe. It marked the best free throw shooting performance by a Valpo opponent since November of 2013.
- Evansville (13-9, 3-6 MVC) was led by 23 points from Dru Smith and 22 points from MVC leading scorer Ryan Taylor.
Valpo (11-11, 2-7 MVC) continues Valley play on Saturday night at Illinois State. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m., and the game can be seen live on ESPN2. As always, fans can listen to the action as well on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso).