A back-and-forth battle between Valpo and Missouri State before an intrepid crowd at the ARC Tuesday night needed five extra minutes to determine the outcome, but in the end, the Bears’ Keandre Cook hit a pair of free throws with 2.3 seconds to play in overtime as a shorthanded Valpo squad fell by a 55-54 final.
How It Happened
- The game entered overtime tied at 49 apiece, and after the Bears got on the board first with a pair of free throws, Valpo scored five points over its next three possessions – including baskets from freshman Javon Freeman (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) and junior Bakari Evelyn (Detroit, Mich./Hillcrest Academy/Southfield Christian [Nebraska]) – to go ahead 54-51 with 1:57 to play.
- Cook knocked down an inside basket to pull the Bears within one on their next possession, and each team would miss a shot on their next trip. Freshman Daniel Sackey (Winnipeg, Man./Thornlea) pulled down the defensive rebound on Missouri State’s miss with 41 seconds to play.
- With approximately an 11-second difference between game clock and shot clock, Valpo was unable to add to its lead, as it had one effort blocked out of bounds and then turned the ball over with 12.7 seconds to play.
- Missouri State came down, ran the clock down and then had Cook drive, where a foul was called on the shot with 2.3 seconds to play. Cook hit both free throws, and Valpo’s heave from beyond halfcourt to beat the buzzer was off the mark.
- The game was seemingly destined for overtime for the duration Tuesday night. Evelyn connected on a 3-pointer with 15:06 to play, snapping a 12-2 Missouri State spurt spanning the two halves and bringing Valpo within 34-32. The final 20 minutes of the game were all played within one possession either way.
- A 3-pointer from Cook put MSU ahead 44-43 with 5:17 remaining, but Valpo would regain the lead just over two minutes later on an inside basket by junior Jaume Sorolla (Tortosa, Spain/Sunrise Christian [Kan.] Academy).
- Senior Deion Lavender (Alton, Ill./Marquette Catholic [UAB/Southern Illinois]) hit two free throws with 1:39 to play to push Valpo’s lead to 47-44, but the Bears evened the score with 1:11 to play in regulation on a tough step-back 3-pointer by Cook.
- The Bears went ahead with 36 seconds left in regulation on a pair of free throws by Ryan Kreklow, but Valpo tied the game at 49-49 thanks to a driving layup from Sackey. Missouri State had the final possession of regulation, but Cook’s jumper came up short to send the game to overtime.
- A 9-0 run late in the first half pushed Valpo’s lead to its apex, as Freeman had an old-fashioned 3-point play in between 3-pointers from sophomore Mileek McMillan (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville) and Evelyn, the latter forcing a Missouri State timeout with 3:28 to play in the half as Valpo led 23-16. But the Bears eventually scored the final seven points of the half, capped by a driving layup from Josh Webster as the buzzer sounded to tie the game at 25-25.
Inside the Game
- The extra session was Valpo’s second of the year, as it is now 1-1 in overtime games this season (SIUE).
- Tuesday was Valpo’s lowest combined scoring overtime game and the lowest points Valpo has allowed in an overtime game since a 56-52 win at UMKC on Jan. 25, 2007. That game also was the last time Valpo had entered overtime with a lower score than Tuesday’s 49-49 end of regulation, as the game against the Kangaroos was knotted 48-48.
- Valpo’s 54 points are its fewest in an overtime game since a 58-54 double-overtime loss at UNI on Feb. 7, 1981.
- Valpo limited Missouri State to just 10-of-38 shooting inside the arc, but the Bears were 7-of-17 (41.2%) from 3-point range and 14-of-16 (87.5%) from the foul line.
- Meanwhile, Valpo shot just 38.8% from the field, was just 4-of-12 from downtown and 12-of-20 from the foul line.
- Valpo was led Tuesday by the play of Freeman, who finished with 12 points and a team season-best 15 rebounds for his first career double-double.
- Freeman’s 15 rebounds were the most by a Valpo player since Alec Peters pulled down 16 rebounds against Green Bay on Jan. 16, 2017. Outside of Peters, the last Valpo player to secure 15 or more boards was Ryan Broekhoff, who recorded 16 rebounds against Butler on Mar. 3, 2012.
- Evelyn (11 points, three 3-pointers) and Sackey (10 points, 4-of-6 shooting) joined Freeman in double figures.
- Lavender added eight points and a game-high four assists, while Sorolla notched six rebounds and three blocked shots off the bench.
- Tuesday’s game was the first game of his Valpo career that Markus Golder has missed, as the junior sat out after suffering an injury early in Saturday’s game. With Ryan Fazekas still out as well, Valpo dressed just eight scholarship players and had three players play 40+ minutes on Tuesday, led by 42 minutes from Freeman.
- Freeman, Sackey and Lavender are now the only Crusaders to appear in every game this season.
Valpo (12-10, 5-4) looks to snap its season-worst three-game losing streak on Saturday when it hits the road to face Evansville. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. on the MVC TV Network, including locally on NBC Sports Chicago.