The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team battled back to outscore Missouri State 42-35 after halftime, but a cold-shooting first half proved to be too much to overcome as the Bears prevailed 66-55 to advance to the semifinal round of the State Farm MVC Tournament in St. Louis. Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy] paced Valpo with 17 points and eight rebounds in the season finale.
How It Happened
- Valpo was plagued by cold shooting in the opening half as the team went 4-of-30 (13.3 percent) and 1-of-10 (10 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc. That allowed Missouri State to build up a 31-13 edge through 20 minutes.
- Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) swished an early 3, and Goodnews Kpegeol (St. Paul, Minn. / North [Southwest CC / Kansas State]) had five points including a traditional 3-point play to mark two first-half highlights for the Brown & Gold.
- The final sequence of the half was also favorable for Valpo as Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place]) cleaned up the glass for a putback layup, then Kpegeol stole the ensuing inbounds pass and swished a 3. Upon replay review, however, the triple try was ruled to have come after the clock reached all zeros, so the basket was waved off.
- Valpo did swipe six steals in the opening 20 minutes including a pair by Kpegeol.
- The Brown & Gold made it interesting after halftime, cutting the deficit to as few as eight thanks to a 13-2 surge. A Donovan Clay (Alton, Ill. / Alton) fastbreak layup on a Zion Morgan (Chicago, Ill. / Kenwood [Wabash Valley / UNLV]) assist trimmed the gap to single figures with 11:32 to play, and Valpo fought back to within nine with 8:01 remaining.
- Seemingly every time Valpo would put together a second-half spurt, the Bears had an answer. Edwards scored 14 points and had six rebounds in the second half alone, draining three triples, but his efforts were not enough to get Valpo over the hump.
Inside the Game
- Krikke and Clay had 10 points apiece in the second half and finished with 12 and 10 respectively, joining Edwards as Valpo players who had 10+ points in the final 20 minutes.
- Krikke finished the season with 21 double-figure scoring outputs, while Clay posted 14 and Edwards had nine.
- Edwards’ eight rebounds matched a season high established on Dec. 9 vs. SIUE. He led the team on the glass for the third time this season, followed closely by Gordon and Clay with seven boards each.
- Valpo bounced back to shoot 40 percent in the second half after the 13.3 percent clip in the opening 20 minutes.
- Valpo (10-18) totaled eight steals and had 11 assists on 18 made baskets. Missouri State (17-6) held a narrow 43-42 rebounding edge. Valpo did haul in 12 offensive boards leading to 15 second-chance points.
- Isiaih Mosley led Missouri State with 29 points and 12 rebounds.
- The 2020-21 season saw Valpo continue to improve its finish in the regular-season standings from the previous year. The team has taken a step forward in each of its four Missouri Valley Conference seasons, this time earning a first-round bye at Arch Madness for the first time since joining the prestigious and competitive league.
- Valpo closed out the regular season with a stretch of 16 games in a 39-day span and played its best basketball over the final 15 games of the regular season with a 7-8 mark and three losses by three points or fewer.