When the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team stepped off an emotional rollercoaster of a game on Wednesday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center, stress had given way to satisfaction.
Head coach Matt Lottich and his team took a moment to soak up yet another Missouri Valley Conference battle — one that saw the Beacons hold off visiting UNI 83-80 in overtime to return to the win column. The result marked a significant turnaround from the first matchup with a Panthers team that is in the league’s upper echelon as Valpo reversed the result of a one-sided setback in Cedar Falls.
How It Happened
- The two teams played each other tight for the game’s first stretch. When Trevor Anderson (Stevens Point, Wis. / SPASH [Wisconsin]) nailed a 3 at the 12:26 mark of the opening frame, Valpo went up 18-13 for the largest lead by either squad to that point.
- However, UNI ran off the next eight points to go up 21-18 before Kobe King retied the score with a triple at the 9:29 mark.
- UNI built up a five-point lead, but Valpo responded and eventually wrestled the advantage away when Kevion Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whitnall [Winona State]) hit from long range to make it 34-32 in favor of the Beacons with 1:48 left in the half. However, UNI scored the final seven points of the stanza to take a five-point cushion into the locker room.
- Thomas Kithier (Macomb, Mich. / Clarkston [Michigan State]) had five points in the early stages of the second half — including stepping out for his first made 3 in a Valpo uniform — then another Taylor triple tied the game at 42 two minutes into the second half.
- UNI regained the lead and held an advantage that fluctuated between two and six before Trae Berhow’s 3 at the 10:56 mark widened the gap to nine at 61-52. The Beacons responded with six straight points.
- The ARC came to life when Taylor swished a 3 with 6:01 left in regulation, putting Valpo ahead 63-62, the team’s first lead of the second half. The Valley battle continued when Berhow responded with a go-ahead trey of his own.
- Anderson snapped a 65-all tie with a 3-ball at the 4:08 mark, again raising the volume level in the building and energizing the Beacon bench.
- Kobe King (La Crosse, Wis. / La Crosse Central [Wisconsin]) connected on the next two baskets to lift the lead to seven at 72-65, prompting UNI’s final timeout with 1:25 to go. The Panthers scored the final seven points of regulation — four free throws by Noah Carter and a layup by Nate Heise in the final 10 seconds.
- UNI scored the first four points of overtime to make it an 11-0 run and a 76-72 lead, but Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) stepped up with a pair of big shots, one of which came from beyond the arc, to help stymie UNI’s momentum.
- Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place) and King each added baskets to make it a 7-0 Beacon burst and an 81-79 lead with 56 seconds left in overtime. Krikke drilled two free throws with eight seconds left to up the lead to three, then UNI missed a potential game-tying triple in the closing seconds and Valpo held on for the victory.
Inside the Game
- Valpo turned a 27-point loss from the first matchup with UNI to a victory in the second matchup. The last time Valpo beat a team that it had lost to by 27 or more earlier in the season was 1953-1954. Head coach Kenneth Suesens’ team beat Western Michigan 63-62 after having lost to WMU 103-70 earlier in the year.
- Taylor finished with a season-high 22 points, outdoing his previous Beacon best of 18 that occurred on Dec. 20 vs. Eastern Michigan. He paced the team thanks to a 7-of-11 shooting performance that featured five 3s. That marked Taylor’s second contest this season with five triples, a threshold he also reached on Nov. 23 vs. Coastal Carolina.
- Taylor has now hit a 3 in 82 consecutive games.
- Anderson enjoyed a 16-point, four-rebound game off the bench while converting five of his eight shot attempts. Anderson, who has been battling a back injury and missed two of the previous three games, bounced back after shooting 2-of-11 in the previous two games he played (both while not playing at 100 percent due to the ailment).
- King shot an efficient 6-of-9 clip for 13 points, while Kithier enjoyed a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Both his point and rebound totals were his highest in conference play this year. The Valpo center enjoyed his third double-double of the season and second in the last four games.
- DeAveiro dished out six assists, his third game this season with six or more but his first time with more than two against a Division-I opponent. The freshman point guard played 26 minutes, his second-highest total against a D-I foe this year.
- Since the calendar flipped to 2022, half of Valpo’s six games have gone to overtime. Valpo owns OT wins over Illinois State and UNI and a double overtime loss to Loyola.
- Valpo shot right at 50 percent (30-of-60), its second time in the last three games shooting 50 percent or better and the team’s fifth time overall this season at 50 percent or above. Valpo went 41.7 percent (10-of-24) from 3 and 86.7 percent (13-of-15) at the foul stripe.
- The Beacons outrebounded UNI 37-26 including a 7-3 edge on the offensive glass. The +11 marked Valpo’s best rebounding margin against a D-I foe this season. After losing the rebounding battle in 11 of its first 13 games against D-I opponents, Valpo has now owned the advantage on the glass in three of its last four contests.
- The Beacons gave up just three offensive rebounds, tying a season best (East West, SIU) despite playing an extra five minutes.
- Valpo flipped the script on the rebounding battle from the first matchup after going -10 in rebounding margin in the game at UNI.
- Valpo outscored UNI 34-24 on points in the paint after the Panthers owned a 48-14 advantage in that area on Jan. 5 in Cedar Falls.
- Valpo handed UNI, a team picked third in the MVC Preseason Poll, just its second loss in league play as the Panthers slipped to 5-2. UNI received a 33-point, 10-rebound effort from Noah Carter in the defeat.
Postgame Press Conference
Click here for postgame press conference.
Valpo (9-10, 2-5 MVC) will look to make it consecutive victories on Saturday at noon at Indiana State in Terre Haute, Ind. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and on the Valpo Sports Network (95.1 FM Valparaiso, WVUR, ValpoAthletics.com and the TuneIn Radio app).