The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team put together one of its best performances of the season on Saturday, but that momentum did not carry over into Sunday’s series finale at UNI. The host Panthers bounced back to garner the split in the weekend set, topping the Brown & Gold 74-60 on Sunday. The Panthers (7-14, 5-10 MVC) shot at a 52.8 percent clip and boasted double-figure outputs from four of their five starters.
How It Happened
- The two teams played even early as both squads enjoyed production on the offensive end. Valpo received a pair of early triples from Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) as the two teams battled to a 10-10 tie by the first media timeout.
- A foul-line jumper by Zion Morgan (Chicago, Ill. / Kenwood [Wabash Valley / UNLV]) and a traditional 3-point play by Jacob Ognacevic (Sheboygan, Wis. / Sheboygan Area Lutheran) helped Valpo grab a 15-10 edge. The teams exchanged baskets to make it 17-12, but then the Panthers scored five straight to level the score.
- Goodnews Kpegeol (St. Paul, Minn. / North [Southwest Mississippi CC / Kansas State]) entered the scoresheet with a steal and fastbreak dunk to tie the game at 19, then Ognacevic buried a 3 at the 9:55 mark to go up 22-19. UNI responded with a 14-2 spurt to open up a nine-point edge with 4:30 left in the half.
- Valpo had the deficit down to four with 42 seconds left of first-half action after Donovan Clay (Alton, Ill. / Alton) drove to the bucket for his first hoop of the night, but a turnover led to a UNI basket in the closing seconds of the half to extend the lead to six.
- A UNI steal created the first basket of the second half, then a second-chance triple allowed the Panthers to open up their first double-figure lead of the day. Turnovers and second chances both played a role for the half’s duration.
- Valpo trailed by seven with 13 minutes remaining, but a 10-0 run for the hosts culminating with a Noah Heise 3-pointer broke the game open by the 10-minute mark.
- The Brown & Gold made a late push, holding the Panthers scoreless for over five minutes while putting together a 9-0 run. A 3-point play by Eron Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral [Seton Hall]) helped Valpo get back in it, and eventually a driving layup by Clay sliced the deficit to eight.
- Valpo would get no closer as the Panthers finished strong over the final five minutes to record the 14-point win.
Inside the Game
- UNI shot at a 52.8 percent clip including 47 percent from long range while going 10-of-10 at the free-throw line. Valpo’s biggest offensive struggles came from 3-point land, where the visitors went just 4-of-20 including 1-of-11 after halftime.
- Krikke led the way with 12 points, while Edwards (11) and Clay (10) joined him in double figures. Valpo received eight bench points from Ognacevic and seven from Kpegeol, who scored 15 points over the two games in Cedar Falls.
- Clay had his 11th-double figure scoring output of the season, while Krikke enjoyed his 16th including his fourth in the last five contests. Edwards was in double figures for the fourth time in his last five games and the eighth time overall during his rookie campaign.
- Krikke topped Valpo on the glass with five rebounds including a pair of offensive caroms.
- Valpo had a strong night at the free-throw line, going a season-high 92.3 percent (12-of-13.) It was Valpo’s best free-throw shooting performance since going 14-of-15 (93.3 percent) vs. Cincinnati on Nov. 25, 2019 in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a much warmer climate than the chilly temperatures in Cedar Falls this weekend.
- Valpo committed 16 turnovers in the setback, while the Panthers owned a 25-14 edge in points off turnovers.
Valpo (8-14, 5-8 MVC) will return to action on Wednesday by making its way to Chicago’s North Side to take on Loyola. The game tips off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on the MVC TV Network, including NBC Sports Chicago. Links to live audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.