Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Crusaders' Season Comes to a Close Tuesday
Brandon McPherson played in his final career game Tuesday. (Ray Acevedo)
Brandon McPherson played in his final career game Tuesday. (Ray Acevedo)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Valparaiso men’s basketball team saw its 2009-2010 campaign come to an end Tuesday at the Athletics-Recreation Center, as the sixth-seeded Crusaders fell to seventh-seeded Detroit, 89-82, in first round action in the 2010 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship.

“This was the toughest first-round matchup we could have gotten,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew.  “Their combination of size and speed is very outstanding, and it showed tonight, especially in how Detroit dominated inside.  You have to compliment them, they did a good job spreading the floor to get the ball inside and then utilizing their speed in transition to help extend their lead.”

Unlike the first two meetings, which saw Valpo with ten and 19 point leads at halftime, Detroit would not let the Crusaders get out to the advantage in the first half, as the Titans utilized an early 10-2 spurt to help push their lead up into double digits just over ten minutes into the game.  Detroit’s biggest lead was capped at 25-13 with 8:18 to go in the opening half before the Crusaders started slowly pulling the Titans back within reach.

A 3-pointer by Cory Johnson (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East [Iowa State]) got Valpo going, as the Crusaders would double up the Titans for the remainder of the opening 20 minutes.  Johnson would add another triple, while Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) and Brandon Wood (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo [Highland C.C./Southern Illinois]) each poured in four points during the stretch as well, as Valpo outscored the Titans 16-8 over the final eight minutes of the half to trail just 33-29 at the break.

Eight early second-half points by Johnson helped the Crusaders keep pace with the Titans over the opening stages of the half, and when Wood connected on a fast-break 3-pointer with 15:02 to go, the game was tied, the first Valpo share of the lead since scoring the first basket of the contest.  Detroit answered with a bucket by Eli Holman, however, and while the Crusaders would remain within one possession for the better part of the next four minutes, they could never regain even a share of the lead.

Detroit would eventually push its lead up into the two-to-three possession range, where it sat for most of the remainder of the game.  The Crusaders would not let the Titans pull ahead by more than eight points, though, and got a big play with 5:15 to go, trailing by seven.  Michael Rogers (Kingston, Jamaica/Redemption [N.Y.] Christian) came up with a steal and was intentionally fouled, sinking both free throws.  Given possession as well, Wood drove and got fouled and hit both of his charity attempts, cutting the deficit to 68-65 with 5:05 to play.

Detroit would score the next three points, but Matt Kenney (Mooresville, Ind./Mooresville) came up with a triple with 3:23 remaining to bring Valpo back to within 71-68.  The Titans scored the next nine points, however, pushing their advantage to 12 points with 1:31 to play.  A quick barrage of Crusader shots, capped by a Tommy Kurth (Osceola, Ind./Penn) 3-pointer, sliced the deficit in half in a 32-second span, but Valpo would come up empty on its next two possessions and the Titans connected on their free throws to secure the win.

“I really thought we showed good resilience,” said Drew.  “We came back a number of times, first from the start of the game and then a couple second-half runs.  We made a good run to get it down to a three-point game with three minutes to go, but again Detroit’s speed in transition hurt us.  We couldn’t keep them in front of us and had to foul and they extended their lead.”

Johnson tied for game-high honors Tuesday with 24 points, including four 3-pointers, while Wood ended the game with 23 points, 17 of which came in the final 20 minutes.  McPherson joined the aforementioned duo in double figures with 11 points and also handed out a game-best five assists.  Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport) pulled down a team-high nine rebounds off the bench, but the Crusaders found themselves outrebounded, 46-31.

Chase Simon led Detroit (19-13) with 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while Holman went for 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, as well as 15 rebounds.  Xavier Keeling scored 14 points for the Titans, who shot 56.3% from the floor, while Eulis Stephen chipped in 11 points off the bench.

Valparaiso closes the 2009-2010 season with a 15-17 overall record, a six-game improvement in the win column over last year’s squad.  The Crusaders also went 10-8 in league play, five games better than last year, to finish tied for fourth after being picked eighth in the preseason.

Individually, Wood ended the season with 565 points, tied for ninth-most in a single year in Crusader history, while Johnson scored 499 points, 21st-best in a single season all-time at Valpo.  Meanwhile, McPherson, Valpo’s lone senior, closes his career 21st all-time in Crusader history in scoring (1,180 points), tied for tenth in assists (316), eighth in 3-pointers made (158), ninth in 3-point percentage (40.7%), as well as the all-time leader with 129 games played.

“I’m extremely proud of Brandon [McPherson],” said Drew.  “This was his last game in a Valpo uniform, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the locker room after the game because of what he has meant to this team.  We are going to miss him after five years of him working hard and making practice enjoyable every day.  I hope our guys had the same feeling he had after the game, and use that feeling to come back in the offseason to work hard and get better for next year.”

W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 0
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19 CCD
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 2nd/3 (191)
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 3rd/5 (82)
W Tennis Cleveland State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 0
Softball Oakland 1 VU Softball Field
Apr 19 Valpo 2
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19 Milwaukee 5
Softball Oakland 4 8 inn.
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Tennis Cleveland State 5 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20 12th/15 (314)
Baseball Kalamazoo 3 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21 Valpo 10
Baseball Ohio Northern 2 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22 Valpo 1
Softball Valpo 3 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 1
Softball Valpo 5 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 4
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. #21/21 Notre Dame
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 2:00 p.m. UIC
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26, 3:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Western Michigan Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 5:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Chicago State Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Indiana (resumption of suspended game)
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 4:00 p.m. Indiana
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 2, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 3, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 1:00 p.m. Green Bay
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 3:00 p.m. Green Bay