The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team battled back from a 16-point deficit with 8:08 remaining to get to within two with 1:22 to go, but the Beacons could not get over the final hump in a 63-60 setback to visiting Southern Illinois on Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Kobe King (La Crosse, Wis. / La Crosse Central [Wisconsin]) scored 13 second-half points including eight in the final four minutes, but Valpo went 0-for-5 from the field in the final 40 seconds, misfiring on a string of shots that would have tied the game or given the hosts the lead.
How It Happened
- Making his first collegiate start, Preston Ruedinger (Oshkosh, Wis. / Lourdes Academy) wasted no time in securing his second basket in a Beacon uniform by nailing a go-ahead 3 at the 14:20 mark of the first half to put Valpo up 9-8.
- The two teams went back and forth for much of the first half, before a crucial surge took place over the final six minutes of the stanza. After Thomas Kithier (Macomb, Mich. / Clarkston [Michigan State]) laid one in to tie the game at 18, the Salukis scored seven straight and 12 of the game’s next 14 points to build up a double-figure advantage.
- A trey by Marcus Domask with 2:35 on the first-half clock provided SIU with its first 10-point edge at 30-20. The two teams exchanged buckets before the Beacons went into the locker room down 32-22. Valpo allowed just one offensive rebound and held an 8-3 edge in the turnover battle over the opening 20 minutes, but the shooting numbers told the tale with Valpo at 34.5 percent and SIU at 60.9 percent.
- A dunk by Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) with 14:37 remaining in the second half helped Valpo trim what had been a 14-point deficit three minutes earlier down to five at 39-34. However, SIU rattled off 10 straight points to up the lead to 15 at 51-36 with 9:53 remaining.
- With 8:08 left of second-half time, Valpo found itself chasing by 16, its largest deficit of the game. That’s when Kevion Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whintall [Winona State]) nailed back-to-back jacks by burying consecutive made 3s for his first two triples of the evening.
- Starting at the six-minute mark, Valpo got points on seven straight possessions. King accounted for eight points in the final four minutes including a big-time triple with 1:22 on the clock that sliced the Saluki lead to two at 62-60.
- Neither team made a field goal over the final 1:22, a stretch that featured the aforementioned five missed shots by the Beacons.
Inside the Game
- Kithier enjoyed his second career double-double by racking up 12 points and 10 rebounds in his return to the court after missing the previous two games due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. He went 5-for-5 from 2-point distance and 5-of-7 overall.
- Over his last two games, Kithier is now 10-of-13 shooting and has posted consecutive 12-point efforts. The 10 rebounds marked his top performance on the glass since a career-high 12 on Nov. 23 vs. Coastal Carolina. This was his first double-double since a 28-point, 11-rebound effort on Nov. 13 vs. UIC. The Michigan State transfer has squeezed six or more rebounds in seven straight contests.
- King tied a career high in rebounds that was established in his previous game (Jan. 5 at UNI) by pulling down nine boards for the second straight outing. He was one carom shy of a double-double on a day that saw the Wisconsin native finish with 18 points including his second straight game with six made free throws.
- King has finished with 17 points or more in four of his seven games this season and has reached double figures six times including four straight.
- Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place) totaled 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, his third straight game in double figures and ninth such performance in 13 contests this season. Of his nine double-figure outputs, seven have featured more than 15 points. In Saturday’s game, Krikke scored 10 of his 16 prior to halftime.
- Starting in place of Trevor Anderson (Stevens Point, Wis. / SPASH [Wisconsin]), who was sidelined by an injury, Ruedinger paced the team with four assists, tying a season high. He made his first start in five appearances this year.
- With Anderson’s first absence of the season, Valpo has no players who have started all 16 games this year. Taylor, Edwards and Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) are the only three who have played in all 16 contests.
- Taylor surpassed 1,800 points for his collegiate career (split between Division-I and Division-II) on Saturday, becoming just the 30th active player in all of NCAA college basketball (D-I, D-II and D-III) to reach the 1,800-point threshold. He is just the 16th active NCAA player with 1,800 points and 600 rebounds.
- Taylor made a pair of 3s, his 12th time in 16 games this season with multiple made triples. In fact, he’s had multiple made 3s in seven straight outings. In addition, he is the first Valpo player since at least the start of the 1989-90 campaign to open a season by making a 3 in each of the first 16 contests. Including his time at Winona State, Taylor has made a 3 in 79 straight games dating back to Dec. 15, 2018.
- Had Valpo completed the 16-point comeback, that would have been no surprise, as the team has rallied from double-figures down 18 times during the Matt Lottich head coaching era (sixth season) including twice this year.
- King had three steals, establishing a career high.
- This marked Valpo’s fourth defeat this season by four points or fewer, accounting for half of the team’s losses.
- SIU’s Marcus Domask finished with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting to lead all scorers.
- This was the third straight Valpo-SIU matchup decided by three points or fewer. Both of last year’s showdowns were also one-score games with the two teams splitting a back-to-back in Carbondale.
- After a rare aberration with 18 turnovers on Jan. 5 at UNI, Valpo returned to form in terms of valuing the basketball. The Beacons gave it away just six times on Saturday, matching a season low (Nov. 22 vs. Jacksonville State). That marked the team’s seventh single-figure turnover game in 16 contests this season.
- Valpo surrendered just three SIU offensive rebounds, tying for the fewest offensive rebounds by a Valpo opponent this season (East-West on Dec. 7).
- The Beacons struggled to knock down 3-point shots, going just 5-of-22 for 22.7 percent. That marked the team’s lowest 3-point shooting clip since the Nov. 9 season opener vs. Toledo and the second-lowest of the season. The 60 points matched a season low (Nov. 17 at Stanford).
Postgame Press Conference
Click here for postgame press conference.
Valpo (8-8, 1-3) will visit Loyola for an 8 p.m. tip at Gentile Arena on Chicago’s north side on Tuesday night. The game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. The hometown radio call will be available on the Valpo Sports Network with links to live coverage found on ValpoAthletics.com.