The movement late in the second half of Saturday night’s game at the ARC was all on the Crusaders’ side of the scoreboard, as the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team went on a 21-0 run late to take the lead and eventually pull away for a 77-64 win in Missouri Valley Conference play over Bradley. Sophomore Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) led the way with 16 points, all of which came in the second half.
How It Happened
- It was a slow start offensively for the Crusaders, as Valpo connected on just one field goal over the first eight-plus minutes.
- Bradley led by double figures at 15-5 less than seven minutes into the game, and enjoyed a lead in the high-single digits for much of the half.
- The Braves again extended their lead to 10 at 27-17 with 3:17 to play in the opening period before the Crusaders scored seven straight – including dunks from senior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) and sophomore Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) – to cut the deficit to three points.
- Bradley would eventually go into the locker room at halftime with a 31-26 lead.
- Still looking for their first outright lead of the game, a 3-pointer from freshman Mileek McMillan (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville) was followed by a dunk by sophomore Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) to move the Crusaders into a tie with the Braves at 33-33 with 18:01 to play.
- Valpo was unable to get over the hump at that point, however, and Bradley enjoyed a lead in the low single digits for the next 10 minutes. Four separate times, the Crusaders got to within one point, but each time Bradley responded.
- Golder connected on a 3-point with 8:25 to play to tie the game at 52-all, and a minute later, after Bradley had split a pair of free throws, sophomore Micah Bradford (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) converted at the rim to give Valpo its first lead at 54-53 with 7:14 remaining.
- The teams traded the lead three times over the next couple minutes, ending with Bradley scoring five straight to make it a 60-56 Braves lead with 5:56 to play.
- Golder drove inside for a layup 15 seconds later to kick-start the 21-0 Crusader run over the next 4:46. In that stretch, Valpo scored on 10 of 12 possessions, while Bradley went 0-of-6 from the field, 0-for-2 from the foul line and committed a turnover.
- A driving layup from Joseph tied the game at 60-all with 5:06 to play, and 33 seconds later, Golder connected on a mid-range jumper to give Valpo the lead for good.
- The highlight of the run came with just over two minutes remaining. Sophomore Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./ Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) received a pass 35 feet from the basket with the shot clock ready to expire, didn’t hesitate and launched a high-arcing shot that calmly rippled through the net, igniting the crowd at the ARC as the Crusaders pushed their lead to nine points.
- Bradley went 5:34 between field goals in the final minutes of the game, with its final basket coming after Valpo concluded the 21-0 run and led 77-60.
Inside the Game
- The win was Valpo’s first when trailing at the half since overcoming an eight-point halftime deficit last season on Feb. 24 at Wright State. It also matched the Crusaders’ largest rally for a win this season, as Valpo previously trailed by 10 points in the win over UNCW.
- The Crusaders posted 77 points on a Bradley squad which had entered the game 15th in the nation in scoring defense, limiting opponents to just 64 points per game.
- Valpo scored 51 of its points in the second half – the second straight game it has scored 50 or more over the final 20 minutes. The Crusaders were 17-of-23 from the field in the second half, making six 3-pointers, and were 11-of-12 from the foul line.
- Golder led the second-half surge, as after going into halftime with no points and one rebound, the sophomore finished the night with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting and a team-high seven rebounds.
- Evelyn joined Golder in double figures, finishing with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
- The Crusaders featured offensive balance up and down the lineup, as six different players scored between six and nine points to supplement the pair of double-figure scorers.
- Joseph pulled down six rebounds to go along with Golder’s seven to lead the way as the Crusaders out-rebounded the Braves, 32-24. After being outrebounded in eight consecutive contests, Valpo has now held the edge on the glass in each of the last three games.
- The Crusaders handed out 17 assists on their 23 made field goals, led by six helpers from Joseph. Bradford added four assists in 11 minutes off the bench as well.
- Donte Thomas led Bradley (18-11, 8-8 MVC) with 19 points, while Darrell Brown scored 16 as well. The Braves shot just 37.5% from the field for the game and were just 5-for-16 from the 3-point line.
Valpo (14-15, 5-11 MVC) closes out the home slate on Tuesday evening at the ARC at 8 p.m. as it hosts UNI in front of a national television audience on the CBS Sports Network. It will be Senior Night at the ARC as well, as Joseph and Tevonn Walker are honored. The game can also be heard, as always, on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso).