March 14, 20171st2ndFinal
Stats at a GlanceVALPOILL
FG Percentage.368 (21-57) .484 (30-62)
3P FG Percentage.167 (3-18) .429 (9-21)
FT Percentage.800 (12-15) .684 (13-19)
Offensive Rebounds713
Defensive Rebounds1930
Total Rebounds2643
Bench Points1827
PointsWALKER - 25
Hill - 25
ReboundsWALKER - 8
Black - 12
AssistsWILLIAMS - 2
Lucas - 6
StealsWALKER - 2
Abrams - 2
BlocksThorne Jr. - 1
Morgan - 1
Abrams - 1
Nichols - 1
Hill - 1
Valpo Falls to Illinois In NIT Opener
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Valpo Falls to Illinois In NIT Opener
Tevonn Walker matched his career high with 25 points Tuesday.

A shorthanded Valparaiso University men’s basketball team saw its season come to an end Tuesday night in the first round of the 2017 NIT, as the seventh-seeded Crusaders fell at second-seeded Illinois, 82-57. The loss ends Valpo’s year with a 24-9 record, tying for the fifth-most wins in a single season in program history.

How It Happened

  • Junior Tevonn Walker (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) knocked down a deep jumper on the Crusaders’ first possession to give Valpo a brief lead and would score the team’s first six points, but Illinois jumped out to a 16-6 advantage just over five minutes into the game.
  • Valpo would hold the Illini scoreless for over three and a half minutes, but wasn’t able to take advantage on the offensive end, getting just a 3-pointer from junior Max Joseph (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier College) over that same stretch.
  • Another deep jumper by Walker kept it a seven-point game at 20-13 just past the midway point of the half before Illinois put together a 15-5 spurt over the next five minutes to push its lead to 17 points.
  • Back-to-back steals by junior Lexus Williams (Chicago, Ill./Marist) and feeds for fast-break layups to freshman John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) cut the deficit to 13 points with 3:57 to play in the half and forced an Illinois timeout, but the Illini pushed their lead back up to 41-24 at halftime.
  • The Crusaders limited Illinois to just two field goals over the first 10 minutes of the second half, but were never able to make a run, as a basket by freshman Derrik Smits (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville) with 15:32 to play made it a 15-point game – the closest Valpo would get at any point in the second half.

Inside the Game

  • The Crusaders were making their seventh straight postseason appearance (three of which have come in the NIT) and 16th in the last 22 years.
  • With this year’s postseason appearance, it extends Valpo’s streak of sending every four-year class to at least one postseason game from the class of 1995 to the class of 2020 – this year’s current freshmen.
  • Valpo was playing its fourth game without the services of All-American candidate and Horizon League Player of the Year Alec Peters.
  • Walker matched his career high in the scoring column for the second straight game, finishing with a game-high 25 points. The junior went 9-of-14 from the field and 7-of-9 from the foul line, while also pacing the Crusaders with eight rebounds.
  • Kiser also posted a career-high eight points for the second straight game, hitting 4-of-6 from the field.
  • Joseph tallied nine points and five rebounds, both of which were second on the team behind Walker.
  • The Crusaders shot just 36.8% from the field, including just 3-for-18 from 3-point range. They did close the season on a high note from the foul line, where they’ve excelled all year long, as they hit 80% from the stripe.
  • Valpo came out on the wrong end of a 43-26 margin on the boards. Illinois (19-14) grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and converted them into 12 second-chance points.

Malcolm Hill led the Illini with 25 points, while Leron Black added 13 points and 12 rebounds.