When the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team begins the program’s longest homestand since 1994 on Tuesday, it will do so with positive momentum on its side after the Beacons closed a travel-heavy stretch with a solid 71-60 victory at Western Michigan on Sunday afternoon at University Arena in Kalamazoo. Thomas Kithier (Macomb, Mich. / Clarkston [Michigan State]) racked up a game-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting to lead the way in a game played in his home state.
How It Happened
- Valpo knocked in a pair of early 3s from Kevion Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whitnall [Winona State]) and Trevor Anderson (Stevens Point, Wis. / SPASH [Wisconsin]) as Anderson scored five early points to help Valpo out to a 10-4 edge over the first four minutes.
- The Broncos scored the next eight including two triples to grab a 12-10 lead, and the edge swung back-and-forth throughout the middle of Half 1. Freshman Keyondre Young (Del City, Okla. / Del City) came off the bench to deliver a big 3-pointer that followed his steal on the other end of the court, snapping a 16-all deadlock at the 8:09 mark.
- Young’s triple was part of a key 9-0 run that was punctuated by an old-fashioned three-point play from Kithier. That Valpo spurt changed a 16-15 deficit into a 24-16 advantage with 5:45 to go in the half.
- A Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) 3 stretched the edge to 29-18 with 4:20 left before halftime, but the Broncos took a major bite out of the deficit with a key surge over the final four and a half minutes.
- A trey by Valpo graduate Mileek McMillan started a 10-1 burst that helped Western Michigan fight to within two. Markeese Hastings beat the buzzer with a jumper to close the half, helping WMU enter the break down just two at 32-30 despite Valpo having led by as many as 11.
- Valpo scored the first five points of the second half including a three-point play by Anderson to go up 37-30.
- Much like he did in the opening half, Young delivered a crucial 3 at the 11:23 mark to up Valpo’s edge to seven at 45-38. That basket highlighted a 7-0 run that transformed a narrow three-point lead to double figures by the midway mark of the second half.
- Anderson assisted on a Trey Woodyard (London, Ohio / International Sports Academy) 3 at the 9:47 mark, and an Edwards steal on one end of the court led to an Anderson jumper on the other to lift the lead back to 11 with 7:47 remaining.
- Kithier made several more baskets down the stretch, and Valpo played solid defense throughout en route to the win.
Inside the Game
- Kithier matched his most efficient performance of the season, replicating the 8-of-11 shooting showing that he displayed in the Nov. 9 season opener vs. Toledo. He hit double figures for the first time in the last seven games and the third time this season, with all three double-figure outings coming with outputs of 16 points or more. He also corralled six rebounds and swatted a pair of shots.
- Edwards reached double figures for the eighth time in nine games this year, posting 15 points to go along with four rebounds, a block, a steal and two assists. The block was his 16th of the season in nine games, already over double his 27-game total of seven from his freshman season. Edwards has both blocked a shot and made a 3 in all nine games this season.
- Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) shared the team lead in assists with Anderson with four apiece. Gordon also contributed four rebounds and a season-high three steals.
- Young chipped in eight points off the Beacon bench, while Anderson joined Kithier and Edwards in double figures with 11. Anderson also accrued four rebounds and four assists while reaching double figures for the fourth straight game and the sixth time in nine appearances this season.
- Junior Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place) squeezed a season-high eight rebounds including three on the offensive glass. Valpo prevailed despite a rare quiet shooting night from their leading scorer as Krikke was held to seven points. Valpo improved to 4-2 since the 6-foot-9 forward returned from missing the first three games of the season with an injury.
- McMillan, who played in 121 games over four seasons at Valpo, scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 22 minutes before fouling out against his former teammates.
- The 11-point margin of victory was Valpo’s largest against a Division-I opponent this season. The Beacons had 15 assists on 25 made baskets and kept their turnover total in single figures for the third straight game.
- Defensively, Valpo limited Western Michigan to 60 points, the lowest total by a Beacon foe this season. WMU’s Lamar Norman Jr. was held to just 1-of-8 from 3-point range after he entered Sunday leading the nation in made 3s per game.
Valpo (4-5) will host six straight games at the Athletics-Recreation Center as Sunday’s visit to Kalamazoo marked the team’s final road date until Jan. 5. The homestand begins on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. against East West, a game that will see Kobe King (La Crosse, Wis. / La Crosse Central [Wisconsin]) make his Valpo debut after he sat out the first nine contests before becoming eligible. For ticket information, visit valpoathletics.com/tickets.