The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team incurred a 79-55 setback to host Bradley on Saturday night at Carver Arena in Peoria, Ill. Valpo had three players finish in double figures, led by Kevion Taylor (Milwaukee, Wis. / Whitnall [Winona State]) and Kobe King (La Crosse, Wis. / La Crosse Central [Wisconsin]) with 16 points apiece. Valpo shot a much-improved 51.6 percent in the second half, but a tough offensive opening half against a stout Bradley defense that leads the league in field-goal percentage defense dictated the game’s outcome. Valpo closed the regular-season with a busy stretch as this marked the team’s fifth game in 11 days.
How It Happened
- The Beacons played good defense in the game’s early stages, but struggled to score points from the outset. Bradley built up a 12-4 advantage by the 12:34 mark of the first half.
- After a Taylor basket with 10:05 remaining in the opening half to cut the lead to seven at 15-8, Bradley reeled off eight straight points. That widened the gap to 15 at 23-8 with 3:54 to play in the first half.
- The Braves scored the final six points of the half, and by the time the period came to an end, the lead for the hosts was 34-13.
- Fifth-year senior Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) made a fastbreak 3 for the first points of the second half, then Taylor had a pair of baskets. Bradley followed by scoring the next seven including a dunk by Ari Boya and a 3 by Ville Tahvanainen to make it 44-20.
- Valpo shot 51.6 percent after halftime, but the Braves knocked down shots at a 56.3 percent clip after the break. Bradley outscored Valpo 45-42 in the second stanza to hold on to the sizable halftime advantage.
Inside the Game
- Taylor finished with 16 points, his fourth straight game with 16 or more. He has scored in double figures 18 times this season and 99 times in his collegiate career.
- King’s 16 points represented his 11th double-figure output in his last 12 games. He has reached the double-figure threshold in 18 of his 21 games this season and has scored 15 points or more on nine occasions. His 16 points on Saturday came on 8-of-12 shooting.
- Gordon contributed eight points and six rebounds, while Krikke had 10 points and a team-high seven boards.
- Krikke scored in double figures for the 21st time in 27 games this season, extending his double-figure scoring streak to 11 consecutive games. He pulled down five or more rebounds for the 10th time in his last 11 contests and sixth straight outing.
- Freshman Preston Ruedinger (Oshkosh, Wis. / Lourdes Academy) returned after missing the previous two games with an ankle injury, but fellow rookie point guard Darius DeAveiro (Kanata, Ottawa, Canada / Orangeville Prep) played only 12 minutes before departing with a thumb injury. Valpo continued to play without Thomas Kithier (Macomb, Mich. / Clarkston [Michigan State]) due to a back injury. The team’s shorthanded nature was evident as the Braves outscored the Beacons 37-5 on bench points.
- Valpo was held to 1-of-10 from 3 in the opening half and finished 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) for the game. Valpo shot 100 percent at the foul line, but had just six attempts.
- Bradley pulled down 13 offensive rebounds to Valpo’s nine, but the Beacons actually outscored the Braves 12-9 on second-chance points.
Valpo (13-17, 6-12 MVC) will open up Arch Madness, the State Farm MVC Tournament, on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. vs. Evansville at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Mo. The winner of that game will advance to face second-seeded Missouri State on Friday at 6 p.m. in the event’s quarterfinal round.