The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team outscored Missouri State 30-8 over the final nine minutes of the first half, taking a tie game and turning it into a 22-point halftime lead en route to an 82-66 victory on the road Saturday afternoon in Springfield, Mo. With the win, Valpo has now won three straight games and improves to 2-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play.
How It Happened
- Valpo never trailed on Saturday, as freshman Daniel Sackey (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada/Thornlea) knocked down a 3-pointer – his second triple of the year – on Valpo’s second offensive possession of the game.
- The lead was five less than five minutes in following a slick behind-the-back fast-break pass from freshman Javon Freeman (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) to junior Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) for a slam, but Missouri State rallied to tie the game twice approaching the midway point of the half.
- With the score tied at 16-16, Valpo got four cracks at the basket on a single possession – the fourth resulting in a tip-in by Freeman to put Valpo in front for good with 8:44 to play in the first half.
- Freeman’s tip-in jump-started a 16-1 run for Valpo as the lead ballooned to 15 points at 32-17 with 4:39 to play in the half. Junior Ryan Fazekas (Chesterton, Ind./Marquette Catholic [Providence]) knocked down two 3-pointers during that span, while junior Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy) scored on three straight possessions during the run – two of which were assisted by Sackey.
- Another big run right before the half extended the lead into the 20s at halftime. Senior Deion Lavender (Alton, Ill./Marquette Catholic [UAB/Southern Illinois]) scored back-to-back baskets to open the spurt, while junior Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) scored seven points and had an assist during the 13-1 run as well. Valpo would eventually take a 46-24 lead into halftime.
- Missouri State came out of the break and quickly sliced nine points off the lead, as Ryan Kreklow knocked down a 3-pointer 4:28 into the half to cut Valpo’s lead to 50-37.
- With the advantage still 13 points, Missouri State had a shot to potentially cut the lead to 10 with nine minutes to play in the half, but missed a 3-pointer. Lavender grabbed the rebound, came down on the break and hit Fazekas in the corner for a triple. Then, following another miss from the Bears, Freeman grabbed the board, pushed and hit Evelyn for a corner 3-pointer as Valpo pushed its lead back to 64-45 in the blink of an eye.
- Missouri State cut the lead to 15 points with under seven minutes remaining, but again Valpo came up with a big shot, as junior John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) pulled down an offensive rebound and connected with Fazekas for a step-back 3-pointers. The triple started a 14-5 spurt for Valpo as it extended its lead to the apex of 25 points with 3:49 to play.
Inside the Game
- Valpo won its first MVC road game of the season after not winning a conference road contest until the regular season finale at Drake last season.
- Valpo sits at 2-0 in MVC play after winning just two of its first 10 conference games last year.
- As has been the case in most of Valpo’s wins this year, Saturday was characterized by strong shooting and sharing the basketball.
- Valpo hit 50.9% from the field for the game and was 12-of-24 from 3-point range – the third time this season the squad has hit at least half of its 3-point attempts.
- Meanwhile, Valpo limited Missouri State to just 36.5% shooting, while the Bears were just 6-of-29 from 3-point range.
- Valpo tallied 19 assists on its 29 makes Saturday, led by Lavender, who handed out five assists without committing a turnover in the win. The graduate transfer also tallied seven points and pulled down a season-best and game-high 10 rebounds, leading the way on the glass as Valpo out-rebounded the Bears, 43-32.
- Four Valpo players scored in double figures on Saturday, while two others finished with nine points as well. Leading the way was Fazekas, who matched his season best with six made 3-pointers, going 6-of-11 from deep for his 18 points.
- Evelyn knocked down three 3-pointers off the bench on his way to 13 points, while Golder was an efficient 4-of-6 from the floor for 11 points. Junior Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) posted 10 points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes of action, while Freeman and Sorolla added nine points each – the latter doing so on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor and pulling down six rebounds as well.
Valpo (9-6, 2-0 MVC) hosts Bradley at the ARC on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available at ValpoAthletics.com or by contacting the ARC ticket office.