Clay’s Big Day Not Enough as Halftime Deficit Proves Too Large at CMU
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Clay’s Big Day Not Enough as Halftime Deficit Proves Too Large at CMU
Donovan Clay finished with a season-high 20 points to pace Valpo on Saturday.

The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team played well in the second half, but a 14-point halftime deficit proved to be too much to overcome as host Central Michigan held on for an 84-79 win on Saturday afternoon in Mount Pleasant, Mich. Sophomore Donovan Clay (Alton, Ill. / Alton) had his best game of the season and one of his most productive days in a Valpo uniform, posting 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go along with five rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal.

How It Happened

  • Valpo jumped out to a quick 8-1 lead behind a pair of early buckets by Clay. After a missed layup by the Chippewas created a fastbreak the other way and Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place) laid it in on a Clay assist, Valpo owned a 12-4 lead with 14:36 left in the first half.
  • Daniel Sackey (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada / Thornlea) picked up his second foul with 8:57 left in the first half, and sat out the remainder of the half. Central Michigan took advantage of the Valpo point guard’s absence during that stretch.
  • Valpo got stuck on 14 points for nearly four minutes, allowing Central Michigan to flip an eight-point deficit into a five-point lead. When Travon Broadway Jr. drained a triple with 7:50 on the first-half clock, it expanded the lead to nine, and suddenly the cushion reached double figures at 30-19 thanks to a Meikkel Murray bucket with 6:30 to go.
  • The lead fluctuated between seven and 11 until Devontae Lane drained 3s on consecutive possessions to widen the margin to 12. Lane added a 1-and-1 with 19 seconds to go, converting both ends to enlarge the gap to 14 at 44-30. Lane scored 14 first-half points, eight of which came in the final two minutes.
  • Valpo went just 2-of-10 from 3 in the first half, while Central Michigan knocked down seven of its eight 3-point efforts with Lane going 4-for-4 from long range.
  • After a Broadway free throw gave Central Michigan its largest lead of the game 26 seconds into the second half at 45-30, Valpo scored 10 of the game’s next 12 points to whittle the deficit to seven with 17:27 to go. Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) drained a pair of critical 3s to provide a needed lift during that spurt.
  • After an 0-for-4 first half from 3-point territory, sharp-shooting freshman Connor Barrett (Chicago, Ill. / Loyola Academy) drained his first trey of the day to cut the lead to five at 50-45 with 15:45 to go. However, the next six points belonged to Central Michigan and the lead shot back up to 11.
  • Both teams entered the bonus with considerable time on the clock, and the game’s late stages were free-throw filled. After three straight makes by Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place), Valpo had the deficit down to five again with 6:17 to go.
  • Barrett buried his second 3 of the afternoon with 5:41 on the clock to pull Valpo to within three at 67-64. A driving layup by Sackey cut the deficit to one, and then another Sackey basket again shrank the lead to one with 4:53 remaining.
  • Five straight Central Michigan (2-3) points followed to boost the lead back to six. After a Clay basket, Valpo had a 3-point look that was off the mark with three minutes remaining, and still chased by four in the final minute. One last gasp featured a pair of 3-point efforts sandwiched around a Krikke offensive rebound, but both shots were off the mark as Valpo couldn’t bite into a four-point deficit with 11 seconds to go.
  • A late 3 by Jacob Ognacevic (Sheboygan, Wis. / Sheboygan Area Lutheran) cut it back down to one possession with seven seconds to go, but Broadway made both free-throws with 4.1 on the clock to ice the victory for the hosts.

Inside the Game

  • Clay’s 20 points represented a season high and were two shy of his career best established on Feb. 25 of last season vs. Missouri State. The Valpo sophomore has now reached the 20-point threshold on three occasions in his career, with the other coming on Dec. 30, 2019 vs. Loyola (21).
  • Barrett scored 14 points, cracking double figures for the second time in the last three games. His effort was highlighted at the foul line, where he went 6-for-6.
  • Krikke was the third Valpo player – all freshmen or sophomores – in double figures as he accrued a dozen points. The Valpo forward also squeezed a team-high six rebounds, drew five fouls and blocked three shots. He has now reached double figures in four of the season’s first six games.
  • Valpo’s free-throw shooting was a bright spot, as the team went 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) at the stripe. The 20 made free throws were the team’s most in a game since making 22 in the conference semifinal win over Missouri State last year, and the 83.3 percent was the highest clip in a game where Valpo had at least 10 attempts since going 18-of-20 on Jan. 11, 2020 vs. Drake.
  • Valpo outscored Central Michigan 49-40 in the second half, forcing nine turnovers and limiting the Chippewas to 2-of-7 from 3 in the final 20 minutes. Nearly half (18) of Central Michigan’s second-half points came at the free-throw line.
  • Lane finished with 27 to lead all scorers, while Broadway accrued 21. Lane surpassed Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr. (25) for the most points scored by a Valpo opponent this season. It was the highest individual scoring output against the Brown & Gold since Loyola’s Keith Clemons had 28 in the MCL Tournament matchup last March.

Up Next 

Valpo (2-4) was slated to take on Eastern Michigan on Wednesday night, but that game has been postponed until the 2021-22 season. Valpo is working on finalizing a home game against a replacement opponent for this coming week. Check back to for the latest schedule information.