The Valparaiso University men’s basketball program returned to the court after a 20-day hiatus from game action with an 81-68 setback to Missouri State in the Missouri Valley Conference opener on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The Bears (7-1, 4-1 MVC) avenged Valpo’s victory from last season’s MVC semifinal matchup despite 21 points apiece from Valpo sophomores Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place) and Donovan Clay (Alton, Ill. / Alton). Krikke used 17 first-half points on his way to his new career high.
How It Happened
- Valpo owned an early 8-7 advantage, but Missouri State scored 12 straight points to open up an 11-point lead with 13:39 left in the first half following a traditional 3-point play by Isaiah Mosley.
- Krikke snapped the run with his first made 3 of the season, but a fastbreak layup by Mosley inflated the cushion back to 10 with 11:37 left of first-half time.
- Coming out of the under-12 media timeout, freshman Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) provided a major spark with seven straight points to shrink the Missouri State lead to three at 24-21 with 8:17 to play in the first half.
- The Bears responded with a 10-point run of their own to increase the cushion to 13. Valpo trailed by 14 with 5:25 to play in the opening half, but Krikke scored 10 points in the final 4:22 of the half to help Valpo close the opening 20 minutes on a 14-4 spurt. Krikke nailed a triple as time expired, pulling his team to within four at 41-37 heading into the locker room.
- Valpo managed to stay within four points despite Missouri State shooting a robust 70.8 percent in the opening half (17-of-24) including six made 3s. Mosley had 16 first-half points on 7-of-8 shooting, but it was Krikke who led all scorers with 17 in the first 20 minutes. The Bears made 10 turnovers including seven Valpo steals.
- It remained close early in the second half, as Clay had a basket despite being fouled that cut the lead to one, and freshman Connor Barrett (Chicago, Ill. / Loyola Academy) trimmed the deficit back to three with 15:29 on the clock after sinking a triple despite being fouled.
- After the Barrett 3, Missouri State scored the next 11 points to open up a 62-48 lead. Clay hit a trey with 12:05 on the clock to snap a scoring drought of nearly 3:30.
- A Clay steal led to an Edwards basket in transition, decreasing the deficit to nine with 11:46 to play. However, the Bears followed with their second big run of the second half, this time rapping off nine straight points to double the lead to 18 with 8:19 to go. Missouri State led by at least 11 the rest of the way.
Inside the Game
- Clay enjoyed his fourth career 20-point game and his second this season. The sophomore’s 21 points on Saturday marked a season high, surpassing his output of 20 from Dec. 12 at Central Michigan.
- Clay finished one-point shy of a career high, which occurred in last season’s home matchup with Missouri State (Feb. 25), when he scored 22 points. He has 43 points in his two career home games against the Bears. Half of Clay’s scoring outputs of 20+ have coming against Missouri State.
- Saturday marked Clay’s 25th career double-figure scoring showing and his sixth in the first nine games this season.
- Krikke had shattered his previous season high by halftime on his way to his career-high 21. His previous season watermark was 16 at Toledo (Dec. 19) and his previous career best was 18 vs. Trinity Christian (Nov. 27, 2019).
- Krikke’s 17 points in the first half were the most in a single half by a Valpo player this season, surpassing Jacob Ognacevic’s 16-point second half vs. Judson. Krikke joins Javon Freeman-Liberty (twice), Tevonn Walker (twice) and Alec Peters (twice during his senior season, Lottich’s first season) as the only four players with 17 or more first-half points in a game during the Matt Lottich Era.
- Krikke had his seventh double-figure scoring output in the first nine game this season after finishing with nine such games a year ago.
- Barrett finished with 11 points for his fourth double-figure scoring output of the season, all in the last six games. He has scored nine points or more in five of his last six.
- Barrett accounted for five of the team’s nine steals, matching his steal total from the season’s first eight games in one game on Saturday to double his season total to 10. He became the first Valpo player with five steals in a game since Freeman-Liberty on Feb. 15 of last season at Illinois State and the first player not named Javon with a five-steal game since Tevonn Walker on Jan. 13, 2018 at UNI.
- Edwards chipped in nine points as freshmen and sophomores (specifically, the quarter of Krikke, Edwards, Clay and Barrett) accounted for 62 of the team’s 68 points (91.1 percent).
- Isaiah Mosley led Missouri State with 29 points, while Gaige Prim had a double-double of 17 points and 16 rebounds. He became the second opposing player with a 15+ rebound game against Valpo this season (Purdue Northwest’s Vincent Miszkiewicz) after no opposing player had 15+ rebounds all of last season.
- The Jan. 9 start to conference play marked Valpo’s latest since head coach Scott Drew’s team commenced the Mid-Continent Conference slate on Jan. 11, 2003 vs. Western Illinois.
- Valpo’s last two games with a pair of 20-point scorers have both come against Missouri State (Donovan Clay & Ryan Fazekas vs. Missouri State; Feb. 25, 2020).
- Missouri State’s 70.8 percent shooting clip was the highest by a Valpo opponent in a single half since Dec. 28, 2017 (at Indiana State, 72.2 percent, 2nd Half). Missouri State’s performance on Saturday was the highest shooting percentage in the first half of a game by a Valpo opponent since Jan. 13, 1992 (vs. Western Illinois, 72.3 percent).
- The defeat snapped a six-game home winning streak that dated back to Feb. 5 of last season (L 63-51 vs. UNI). All six wins during that streak came by 12 points or more.
- Valpo fell to 0-6 when scoring fewer points at the free-throw line than their opponents, but the team is 3-0 when outscoring opponents at the stripe.
Valpo (3-6, 0-1 MVC) will be back in action on Sunday at 1 p.m. vs. Missouri State at the Athletics-Recreation Center for the second of back-to-back games as part of the MVC’s scheduling format for the 2020-21 season. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and links to live video, audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.