The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team made a surge to cut what had been a 15-point deficit to six with seven minutes remaining, but Belmont closed out a 76-64 win on its home floor in the Missouri Valley Conference opener on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn. Kobe King poured in 21 points and was backed by 18 from Ben Krikke, while Jerome Palm was a rebound shy of a double-double.
How It Happened
- Valpo jumped out to an early lead of 3-0 thanks to a traditional 3-point play by King, and Krikke made a pair of early jumpers to help the Beacons own a 7-4 edge. Belmont ran off seven straight points to make it 11-7.
- The game was tight and featured several ties through the first 10 minutes, but after a Nick Edwards basket that made it 19-18 Belmont with 9:59 left in the first half, the Bruins went on a 10-0 run to open up an 11-point edge with 5:28 to play in the half.
- Valpo battled late in the half including a steal and a score by King in the closing seconds of the half to get to within six at 33-27.
- The Beacons defended well through the first 20 minutes, holding Belmont to just 38 percent from the floor at 24 percent from 3-point territory (4-of-17).
- Valpo cut the lead to four twice in the first two minutes of the second half as strong offensive possessions led to baskets by Krikke.
- Belmont ran off seven straight points to open the lead to 11. The gap reached 14 at the 12:46 mark and 15 with 9:36 to go.
- Valpo put together a key run to climb back in the game that was sparked by an old-fashioned 3-point play by Palm. That led to nine straight Beacon points to make it 57-51 with 6:54 on the clock.
- Belmont responded by knocking down shots down the stretch to close out the win, part of a second-half performance that saw the Bruins shoot 65 percent from long range including 11 made 3s.
Inside the Game
- King led all scorers with 21 points, scoring 16 or more for the fourth straight game. He has scored in double figures in every game this season.
- Krikke has been in double figures in seven out of eight games including 18 points on Thursday.
- Palm had season highs in both points (11) and rebounds (nine). His total on the boards matched his personal best established on Nov. 13 vs. Western Michigan, while his previous personal best in scoring was six on Nov. 16 at Chicago State. He also had an impressive blocked shot.
- Valpo committed a season-low six turnovers, a significant improvement from a season-most 19 last time out (albeit in five extra minutes in overtime).
- Edwards had his second straight game with a season-high six rebounds.
The Beacons (3-5, 0-1 MVC) will return to the court on Sunday by hosting Murray State in the home conference opener at 1 p.m. at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Tickets are available on valpoathletics.com/tickets. The game will be broadcast on The Valley on ESPN+.