The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team led at halftime and twice rallied from down double figures to create late drama, but Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite Drake escaped with a 68-63 home win on Thursday night at the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Ben Krikke paced the team with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting in a game Valpo led 26-24 through 20 minutes.
How It Happened
- Valpo jumped out to a 7-2 lead with Krikke and Kobe King accounting for the early scoring. The Bulldogs scored the next five to level the score at seven. Krikke did pick up two early fouls, his second coming at the 15:39 mark of the first half.
- The Beacons built up a four-point lead when Quinton Green drained a 3 at the 7:18 mark to make it 21-17. Drake’s Garrett Sturtz had a 3-point play late in the half to trim a five-point lead to two at 26-24. Krikke picked up an offensive foul for his third in the closing seconds of the half.
- Fifth-year senior Nick Edwards drained a 3 with 16:37 left in the second half to lift Valpo’s lead to five at 35-30.
- The hosts responded to the Edwards basket with a 13-0 run, transforming a five-point Valpo lead to an eight-point disparity with 13:03 on the clock.
- Joe Hedstrom knocked down a 3 to stem the tide with 12:44 remaining. Drake boasted its first double-figure lead of the day at 48-38. Krikke got in on the 3-point act to make it 48-41.
- Hedstrom hit his second 3 of the contest to make it 52-46 with 8:48 to go, and Valpo forced a Drake timeout when King slammed home a fastbreak dunk with 7:43 left to cut what had been a 10-point lead to four at 54-50.
- The Bulldogs scored seven straight coming out of that timeout to up the lead back to 11 at 61-50.
- The Beacons trailed by 10 with 56 seconds left, yet still did not go away. Edwards scored and missed a free throw on a potential 3-point play, but King had a putback on the free throw miss and was fouled, completing a 3-point play of his own. Then Edwards came up with a steal and cut the lead to four after a made free throw with 31 seconds left.
- Drake missed the front end of a one-and-one, then Barrett had a tip-in layup on a missed 3 to shrink the lead to two at 65-63 with 14 seconds to go. Drake made three free throws down the stretch and held on for a 68-63 win.
Inside the Game
- Krikke scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, his 12th game this season in double figures.
- Edwards once again stuffed the stat sheet, accruing 11 points to go along with six rebounds, six assists and a season-high five steals.
- Edwards became the first Valpo player with five steals in a game since Connor Barrett on Jan. 9, 2021 vs. Missouri State.
- Edwards has six assists or more, six rebounds or more and two steals or more in each of his last three games.
- King finished with 14 points, scoring in double figures for the 14th straight game.
- Valpo held Drake to just 21.4 percent (3-of-14) from 3-point distance, the third straight game Valpo has limited the opponent to below 25 percent from long range.
- The defense thrived in the first half, holding Drake to just 25.9 percent shooting (7-of-27) including 0-of-5 from 3.
- Drake’s Darnell Brodie led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, while Sturtz had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Valpo (6-8, 0-3) will host Indiana State on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Athletics-Recreation Center, a New Year’s Day matinee. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and tickets are available at valpoathletics.com/tickets.