The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team picked up a road Missouri Valley Conference win on Saturday afternoon, building up an 18-point lead before holding on to beat host Evansville 76-69 at the Ford Center. A big second half from Kobe King (La Crosse, Wis. / La Crosse Central [Wisconsin]) played a key role as he led the way with 20 points, while Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place) poured in 18 points on an efficient 8-of-11 shooting.
How It Happened
- Valpo faced an early 8-4 deficit before Nick Edwards (Atlanta, Ga. / Grayson [Glenville State]) hit a big 3 at the 15:01 mark to make it 8-7. A moment later Krikke made a go-ahead layup to put the Beacons in front 9-8, and then Quinton Green (Columbus, Ohio / Homeschool [Cedarville]) connected from long range to stretch the edge to four.
- Green drilled another open trey at the 11:48 mark to up the lead to seven. But Evansville roared back, eventually tying the game at 19 on a 3 by Antoine Smith Jr.
- Green continued a big first half with two more baskets in succession including a dunk, but it remained a seesaw battle in the first half.
- Krikke and Green both subbed out of the game with 2:58 left in the opening half as both players were tagged with two fouls. After struggling in a prior stretch when Krikke had a breather, Valpo’s lineup configuration not only survived the stretch, but boosted the lead from one to six over the last three minutes of the half with an offensive-minded Edwards leading the way.
- A well-rested Krikke had six points in the first two minutes of the second half, giving the Beacons their first double-figure lead of the game at 40-29. Valpo continued to grow the lead as Green hit another 3 and King made a layup to make it a 17-point disparity.
- The cushion reached 18 after a 3 by Connor Barrett (Chicago, Ill. / Loyola Academy) with 11:40 on the clock. Evansville scored the next five points, but Valpo got it back to 18 on a King bucket and Emil Freese-Vilien (Copenhagen, Denmark / Falkonergardens Gymnasium]) assist with 6:29 to go. Evansville ran off a seven-point run to fight to within 11.
- The Purple Aces cut the lead to seven at the 2:38 mark, but Krikke hit a pair of big free throws to up it back to nine. The hosts trimmed the lead to six with 45 seconds to play and had the gap down to five with 38 seconds on the clock, but King went 5-of-6 down the stretch at the foul line and Barrett drilled a pair to help Valpo fend off Evansville.
- Evansville’s late surge featured frequent trips to the foul line. Krikke fouled out and Edwards and Green had four apiece as the Beacons battled foul trouble in a game where Evansville was awarded 36 free throws but made just 18 (50 percent).
Inside the Game
- King scored 15 of his game-high 20 points after halftime and finished a rebound shy of a double-double. He made eight of his nine free throw attempts with the only misfire coming on the last heave with six seconds remaining.
- King tallied double figures for the 19th straight game, the only MVC player in double figures in every game this season. This was his sixth 20-point output of the year.
- King’s nine rebounds outdid his previous season watermark of seven that occurred on Dec. 21 vs. Stonehill. His career high of 11 came last season vs. Indiana State.
- Krikke’s 18 points marked his 17th time in 19 games reaching double figures. He has scored 15+ points in 15 contests including each of his last six games.
- Green posted 15 points, while Edwards was the fourth Beacon in double figures with 13.
- Edwards stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists. This marked his highest point total in Valley play.
- Krikke dished out five assists, his fourth straight game with three or more. It was his second-highest assist total of the year behind six vs. UNI.
- Redshirt freshman Cam Palesse (Waukesha, Wis. / Waukesha West) played 17 minutes and had a +13 in the plus-minus column. Krikke was a team-best +15 in that area.
- The 36 free throw attempts were the most by a Valpo opponent since James Madison had 42. Valpo is 2-0 in games where opponents shoot 35+ free throws this season.
Valpo (7-12, 1-7 MVC) will look to make it back-to-back victories on Tuesday night as UIC comes to town for a 6 p.m. tipoff. Tickets are available now on valpoathletics.com/tickets.