Missouri Valley Conference play resumed in a manner that was only fitting in a league known for its down-to-the-wire contests on Sunday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team began the continuous portion of the conference slate in a stressful yet satisfying manner by outlasting visiting Illinois State 81-76 in overtime. The game was the latest nail-biter in a head-to-head series that has featured no shortage of drama since Valpo joined The Valley.
How It Happened
- Fifth-year senior Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) started a breakout shooting day in style as he accounted for the team’s first two baskets including a made 3-pointer 2:30 into the contest to help Valpo out to a 7-2 lead.
- After Illinois State closed to within two at 13-11 with 13:40 left in the first half, Valpo scored seven straight points including a Gordon triple, a Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Candada [Jasper Place]) steal & slam and a Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) transition hoop.
- Gordon fed Krikke for another dunk at the 11:45 mark, then Gordon knocked down his third 3 of the half with 8:48 on the clock. A tip-in by Gordon as the horn sounded to end the first half helped the Beacons enter the locker room leading 39-31.
- Kevion Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whitnall [Winona State]) made his first trey of the night with 17:43 left in the second half to up the lead to nine. The two teams exchanged baskets for several minutes before Illinois State scored five straight points to pull to within three with 12:34 remaining. Valpo eventually worked the lead back up to nine on a Taylor triple with 9:56 left.
- After a pair of made free throws by Kobe King (La Crosse, Wis. / La Cross Central) with 49 seconds to go in regulation, Valpo held a four-point lead. Illinois State’s Antonio Reeves buried a crucial 3 with 40 ticks remaining to shrink the lead to one at 70-69, then a Valpo turnover gave the Redbirds an opportunity to shoot for the lead.
- A foul by Valpo with seven seconds on the clock sent Illinois State to the foul line, but the Redbirds missed the second of two free throws to keep the game tied at 70. Valpo turned it over with less than a second remaining, and the clock reached all zeros with nothing decided and the game level at 70.
- Illinois State won the jump and scored on the opening possession of overtime to take its first lead of the game. Edwards hit a go-ahead 3 with 2:22 to go, then Valpo got a stop and Trevor Anderson (Stevens Point, Wis. / SPASH [Wisconsin]) laid one in to extend the lead to three.
- Illinois State scored with 57 seconds remaining to trim the lead to one on a basket created by a Valpo turnover, but four made free throws by Edwards sandwiched around a defensive stop for the Beacons helped the hosts hold on for the victory.
Inside the Game
- Valpo prevailed despite playing short handed with two players including one starter unavailable due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
- Valpo boasted five players in double figures – Krikke (18), Anderson (14), Gordon (13), King (12) and Edwards (12). This marked the first time Valpo had five players in double figures this season and first since Jan. 28, 2021 vs. Bradley.
- Valpo played its second overtime game of the season and improved to 1-1 in such contests. The last OT win for the Beacons prior to Sunday was the aforementioned Jan. 28, 2021 game vs. Bradley, a 91-85 victory.
- Valpo extended its head-to-head winning streak against Illinois State to eight. Valpo is 8-1 against the Redbirds since joining The Valley. Three of the last four matchups have been decided by five points or fewer.
- Krikke’s 18 points marked the sixth time in 11 games this season that he has finished with 17 or more. Krikke scored 12 of his 18 before halftime.
- Gordon paced the team on the glass with a season-high eight rebounds while also scoring in double figures for the first time this season with 13. His points came on an efficient 5-of-8 shooting. He has more made 3s over his last two games (four) than he did in the first 12 (3). His points all came in the first half.
- Anderson’s 14 points allowed him to finish in double figures for the third time in the last four games, the seventh time in the last nine and the ninth time overall this season. He went 5-of-6 on 2-point shots.
- King had 12 points or more for the fourth time in five games, while Edwards enjoyed his 11th double-figure scoring output of the season.
- Krikke led the team in scoring for the team-high fifth time this season and the 17th time in his career, while Gordon was the team’s top rebounder for the first time this season after holding that distinction 11 times a year ago.
- Valpo went a perfect 16-of-16 at the free-throw line. That marked the second time in the last four games Valpo has enjoyed a perfect day at the charity stripe after going 14-of-14 on Dec. 11 vs. Charlotte. The Charlotte game was Valpo’s first perfect day at the stripe since February 2018 vs. Evansville (5-for-5) and first with at least 10 attempts since Nov. 17, 2016 at Oregon (14-of-14).
- Valpo became just the sixth team in the nation this season with a perfect free-throw shooting game with a minimum of 15 attempts.
- The Beacons are the only team in The Valley this season with a perfect free-throw shooting showing with more than seven attempts, and Valpo has now turned the trick twice.
- By virtue of his two made triples, Taylor extended his streak to 77 consecutive games with a made 3.
- Anderson tied a season high by handing out a team-high six assists for the second consecutive game. He also had six helpers in the final outing before Christmas on Dec. 22 vs. William & Mary.
- Illinois State pulled down 18 offensive rebounds, the most Valpo has given up in a game this season.
- Valpo forced 17 turnovers, the fifth time in the last six games they’ve forced 16 or more.
- Valpo held Illinois State to just 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) from beyond the arc including 0-of-4 in overtime.
- Valpo improved to 18-11 (.621) when playing on Sundays under head coach Matt Lottich, its best wining percentage on any day of the week during the Lottich Era. Unfortunately, this was the team’s final Sunday game of the regular season.
- Antonio Reeves (24) and Sy Chatman (23) accounted for 62 percent of Illinois State’s scoring.
Postgame Press Conference
Click here for postgame press conference.
Valpo (8-6, 1-1) will continue MVC play on Wednesday, Jan. 5 at UNI in a game that will begin at 8 p.m. Central Time in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The game will be televised regionally as part of the MVC TV Network package and will air on NBC Sports Chicago. In addition, the Valpo Sports Network will have the hometown radio call. Links to live coverage will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.