Junior Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place) reached the 20-point precipice for the third time in his five games this season, and the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team made a late surge to trim an 11-point deficit to four in the final minute, but host Drake held on for a 73-66 victory in Thursday’s Missouri Valley Conference opener at the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa. The road setback came to the conference’s preseason favorite and a team that improved to 28-2 over its last 30 home games with its Thursday triumph.
How It Happened
- Valpo got off to a strong start on the offensive end, scoring efficiently early to jump out to an 11-6 edge with 16:31 left in the opening half. Krikke had seven of the team’s first 11 including his first made 3-pointer of the season.
- The five-point edge disappeared as Drake put together an 11-1 burst, capped by a Tucker DeVries 3 with 13:20 left in the first half that made it 17-12.
- The Bulldogs doubled a five-point lead to 10 with a 5-0 burst that featured a D.J. Wilkins trey on a Roman Penn assist with 5:24 on the clock.
- Krikke made back-to-back jumpers to shrink the lead back to four, but the Bulldogs stayed hot from the perimeter when Wilkins knocked in another with 2:35 on the clock, then Tremell Murphy drained one from distance with 1:13 remaining. Drake built the lead to 10 at 40-30 with 28 seconds remaining in the half before Trevor Anderson made a needed jumper in the final seconds of the half to cut the halftime deficit to eight.
- Drake scored the first four points after the break to open up a 12-point lead at 44-32. The Bulldog lead was 12 with 14:54 remaining, but Valpo enjoyed a push by rattling off six straight to slice the deficit in half. A 3 by Trevor Anderson (Stevens Point, Wis. / SPASH [Wisconsin]) and a three-point play by Krikke accounted for that burst.
- A moment later, Kevion Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whitnall [Winona State]) lined up a wide open 3 off a screen and splashed it in to whittle the lead to five at 52-47 with 12:43 remaining. The Beacons would not go away, as they got several big stops defensively and chipped away at the deficit. However, they couldn’t quite get over the hump offensively when they had opportunities to cut the lead to one possession.
- The gap made its way back up to double figures on several occasions, including 11 after a Murphy 3 with 1:27 remaining. However, the Beacons still would not go away. They were the beneficiary of two missed front ends of one-and-ones by Drake down the stretch, plus Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) drilled a quick 3 with 55 seconds on the clock to cut it to six.
- The ensuing inbounds saw Drake lose control of the ball and lead to a fastbreak basket by Darius DeAveiro (Kanata, Ottawa, Canada / Orangeville Prep])¸ and suddenly Valpo found itself within four with 47 ticks to go. After the second of the two missed front ends by Drake, Valpo got it back down just four with 32 seconds left, but Drake came up with a steal as the Beacons turned it over, and the hosts made their final six free throws to ice the conference-opening victory.
Inside the Game
- Krikke has scored 20 points or more in three of his first five games this season, including 20 exactly on Wednesday on 9-of-16 shooting. That represented his fifth career 20-point performance, with three of them occurring this year.
- Anderson finished with 13 points for his fifth double-figure output this season and his third straight game.
- Taylor registered 11 points, his fifth time in double figures this season and first in the last three contests.
- Thomas Kithier (Macomb, Mich. / Clarkston [Michigan State]) squeezed a team-high six rebounds, while Krikke and Edwards each rejected a pair of shots.
- Valpo outshot Drake 48.2 percent to 45.8 percent, but Drake knocked in nine 3s to Valpo’s four including a 7-1 made 3-pointer disparity in the first half. The Bulldogs doubled up the Beacons on the offensive glass, 12-6.
Valpo (3-5, 0-1 MVC) will step back outside of conference play to battle Western Michigan on Sunday in Kalamazoo, Mich. at 1 p.m. CT on ESPN3. The game will also air on 95.1 FM Valparaiso, ValpoAthletics.com and TuneIn Radio app.